Fair and Petting Zoo Safety

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Six-year-old Mathew loves coming to the North Florida Fair. His favorite attraction is the petting zoo.

Lots of memories to take home, but last year more than two dozen kids statewide took home a lot more than that.

"Last year for the first time in anyone's memory there were a number of children who were sickened by animals that apparently had some E. Coli,” said Terence McElroy with the Florida Department of Agriculture.

So the Florida Department of Agriculture asked petting zoos to up their efforts.

"No strollers allowed, no food or drinks allowed through. If you follow the guidelines and wash your hands, don't be scared," said Show Me Safari petting zoo owner Jay Phillips.

"Look for the hand washing station. Always wash your hands after petting animals."

But McElroy says the rules aren't enough. He says parents have to enforce them.

"You can put the signs up at the washing stations, you cannot serve food, but you need vigilant parents to make sure kids aren't putting their hands in their mouth until they wash their hands. They just need to wash their hands."

It’s a simple task that could save your child's life.