NO!!! Dogs, like any other pets, are usually not allowed in zoos for security reasons. Given their natural curious and eccentric nature, taking a poorly trained canine may agitate or scare the animals residing behind the glass walls, including the pup itself. This may in turn get chaotic for others, ending up causing a scene and in worse situations, jeopardizing everyone’s safety.
However, in recent times, the rules and regulations surrounding a zoo’s management have gone through lots of transformations. And below we will be talking about this very subject, so stay tuned.
Why are dogs not allowed at the zoo?
First of all zoos are special homes for endangered and rare species of animals, where they are kept in a controlled and 24/7 monitored environment. Special caretakers are assigned to research and study the behaviours of these animals within enclosed spaces, which may be either cages, barriers, or see-through glasses.
And even though the wild animals at the opposite side may seem chilled out for most of the time, any external stimuli, such as a barking or jumping dog might lead to drastic change in their behavior. As a result, they may try to jump through the caged fences, or indulge in aggressive behaviorism, risking the safety of other animals or staff in with them.
Apart from that, an overly excited dog is also a liability on bystanders or passerbys. When too excited, scared or anxious, a canine’s general temperament may go through explosive changes, resulting in risky passive aggressive behavior. Some of these include, zooming around, tail chasing, whining, extreme barking, snapping, etc.
So, given all these reasons, almost all zoos follow a ‘NO PETS ALLOWED’ policy.
Is there any punishment for violating ‘No Pets Allowed’ policy in Zoos?
Depending upon the specific governing body of the zoo, violators may have to face heavy penalties, imprisonment due to violation of conduct or sometimes both. This is generally decided by the regulating factor and hence can vary from one region to another.
What about Service Dogs?
Now although most zoos follow stringent policies that involve strict disapproval of pet dogs entry, certain nations are a bit lenient when it comes to service dogs. However, for this to apply to your dog, there are a few conditions that need to be met beforehand.
For instance, the first mandatory rule is that the canine should be registered and recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The pooch should have completed the required training session and must have a valid ‘Service Dog’ ID.
Additionally, the service dog should always be kept on a leash, must be well trained in basic etiquettes, and not exhibit aggressiveness, under any condition when inside the zoo premises.
These criterias vary from zoo to zoo, and hence pet parents should always do a thorough research before visiting the zoo with the above-stated canine.
Which Zoos allow Service Dogs inside?
Here’s a small list of zoos that have opened their doors to our beloved furry companions:
- Elmwood Park Zoo– The first zoo on the American continent to allow canine entry into their premises. Pet parents can take their service dogs into a zoo excursion by submitting required documents and following all mentioned guidelines.
- Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens– Based on 160 acres of landscaped parkland and gardens, this park boasts of 260 different species of animals residing within separate spaces. Visit their official website to fill in documents and go through their canine-friendly policy.
- Key West Aquarium– Depicting the beauty of marine life, the Key West Aquarium is the third place where service dogs are allowed.
- Reptile Gardens– A place where both humans and service dogs can have an exciting day-out, the Reptile Gardens is yet another hot-destination for pet parents looking for a zoo where their canines are allowed.
- African Safari Wildlife Park– Also known as the Ohio Safari Park, the African Safari Wildlife Park allows service dogs and miniature horses when supplied with the proper documents.
- Dolphin Research Center– Based in Florida, the Dolphin Research Center is home to several dolphins and California sea lions. This research facility goes lenient towards service dogs and hence be sure to go through their terms and conditions before planning a visit.
What are the documents I should show for my Service Dog?
The list includes:
- Service dog registration under the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Owner registration details
- Annual health evaluation documentation
- Heartworm evaluation and testing documents
- Proof of Rabies, Canine Distemper Virus, and Canine Parvovirus vaccinations
Apart from that some zoos may also ask for further protective gear, such as muzzles, retractable leashes, well-fitting collar and harness with rabies vaccination and owner details.
Are there any more things to note when going to a zoo with a service dog?
Puppies below four months of age and female canids in heat should never be taken to zoos, no matter if they are trained service dogs or not. This is usually because puppies are way too vulnerable to diseases during this phase, and hence may end up contracting or transmitting fatal diseases, including parvo, canine distemper, etc.
Similarly, when in heat, canids may attract male animals through their body smell, that could cause aggression amongst their peers. Mating aggression is rather horrifying and can easily escalate into fatal results if not handled properly.
Even more, the same kind of hostility or over excitedness may also be seen in the lady canine, and this is why pet parents should never visit a zoo or any other animal congressional place when the lady is in heat.
What are the situations that could lead to removal of a person or their Service dog out of the zoo?
While some dog-friendly zoos do allow service dog entry, there are various instances where an individual and their canine may be asked to leave the premises. The factors affecting eviction include:
- Incessant barking, growling, or aggressive, snappy behavior towards caged animals, other service animals or passerbys
- Showing poor toilet training etiquettes
- Owners unable to control their pooches
- Not keeping the canine leashed at all times
- The dog showing resistance to voice commands or signals
All of the above stated signs are treated as threats and hence can lead to immediate eviction of the said individual and their canine. In extreme cases, this may also be followed by penalization or imprisonment.
When taking your emotional or physical support canine inside a zoo premises, it is the duty of every responsible pet parent to be extremely mindful of their canine. If the pooch exhibits any lacking or is going through heat, it is better to opt out of the idea and maybe take a friend or family with you.
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