Whether you do it for profit or not, conducting a petting zoo without a Class C license is a federal crime. Petting zoos must maintain permits and pass routine state inspections. Being licensed, insured and USDA-certified are prerequisites for obtaining permits to host a petting zoo in any city or state.
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Invest in a liability insurance policy. You must have liability insurance to obtain the exhibitor's license. If anyone is injured during petting zoo activities, the insurance will provide compensation.
Undergo training before you apply for a USDA exhibitor's Class C license. The training will vary depending on the type of exhibiting you plan to do. USDA Class C animal caretakers or zoo curators must have adequate understanding, working skills and knowledge to maintain the animals they keep.
Obtain a USDA Class C license. These exhibitor's licenses are required for all public and private zoos, circuses and anyone who transports animals from one location to another for the sake of educating the public. Commercial activity is mandatory for this license.
Contact the city and state where you'd like to obtain a permit, as each locality has specific criteria for issuing a permit. Request an application after you obtain liability insurance and receive your exhibitor's license.
Tips and warnings
- Should a license holder hire personnel who are not qualified to care for the animals or are not properly trained, the licensee is held responsible and considered in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
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