Why Are Dogs Not Permitted in Zoos?

Dogs are one of the friendliest animals around. Ever since the olden days, dogs have been the perfect companions to humans. In fact, in most cultures, when it comes to keeping a pet – dogs are pretty much a universal favorite.

Even though dogs are allowed to be with owners in most public spaces – including restaurants, malls, buses, and planes. There is one notable exception – Zoos.  

Most wild animal parks and sanctuaries around the world have strict rules barring visitors from bringing dogs or all peys. In some cases, it is specific areas within the overall zoo compound where dogs are not allowed. Even in those cases where dogs are permitted inside, there are a number of rules you will probably have to follow.  

Wondering why these rules exists? Well, there are a number of reasons why zoo officials don’t allow dogs inside. From the risk of disease transmission to the possibility of inciting aggression among zoo animals – this post will tell you everything you need to know.

Why Dogs Are Not allowed in Zoos?

Reason 1: Zoo Animal Welfare

Zoos are considered quarantined facilities as they are home to rare & endangered animals. If your dog is in less than good health condition, there may be a greater chance of disease transmission. To control this unwanted spread of zoonotic diseases from your dog to zoo animals, or vice versa – it is necessary for zoos to bar the entry of dogs.

Here are some examples of virally transmitted zoonotic diseases that could even affect humans too:

  • Rabies.
  • Brucellosis.
  • Lyme disease.
  • Salmonellosis.
  • West Nile virus.
  • Zoonotic influenza.

Reason 2: Pet Safety & Well-being

The presence of other animals in the zoos is quite likely to make your dog feel tressed, anxious – or even, act physically aggressive. This is because dogs are particularly sensitive to new sights, sounds and smells emanating from other animals.

A number of scientific studies have shown how dogs react to the smell of certain animals. Findings indicate that in the presence of its natural predators (such as a bear or lynx), a dog’s heartrate may increase – a visible sign of anxiety among dogs.

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So, it is important for the safety of your own dog that it is not exposed to a predatory threat like that.

Reason 3: Quality of Zoo Experience

The presence of zoo animals might also lead your dog to behave in loud and disruptive ways – for example, it may start:

  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Howling
  • Growling, excessively.

Such dog behavior can be a source of disturbance or anxiety for zoo visitors – especially, children or minors. Remember that it is important for the zoo administration to ensure a peaceful and calm environment for everyone.

And even though your pooch may =be very well-behaved, in a new environment such as a zoo, it might start behaving in unusual & hyperactive ways.

Service Dogs – An Exception

As a general rule of thumb, most wildlife parks in the U.S do not allow pet dogs inside their premises. In particular, young puppies & dogs who are sick or injured, are particularly barred from entering zoos.

That said, trained service animals may be exempt from this rule. A service animal is defined by the ADA as covering those dogs who are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

Remember that most dogs are either pets, therapy or emotional support animals – and should not to be confused with service animals as they are not trained to perform any specific task.

Despite this exception for service animals, zoo officials usually still need your canine companion to be registered or assessed for health & behavior.

If your service dog poses a threat to the health or safety of zoo residents, the zoo administration may refuse to allow him inside zoo premises.

Tips before planning a Zoo Trip with your Dog

  1. Depending on which country you live in, you might need to find out if there are dog-friendly zoos near you.
  2. Reach out to the zoo you’re planning to visit to make sure you are aware of any specific rules & protocols you need to follow.
  3. Make sure your dog has a name tag attached to his collar at all times.
  4. Provide food and water to your dog before you visit the zoo.
  5. Make sure you carry a proof of any vaccination (Rabies etc.) you may be required to show.
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Rules to Follow during a Zoo Trip with your Dog

  1. If your pet or service dog relieves himself inside the zoo premises, always make sure you clean up after him.
  2. If your pet or service animal has been denied entry, do not leave them unattended in your car.
  3. Make sure the dog is under your control at all times.
  4. Strictly adhere to all zoo rules & regulations.

Dog-Friendly Zoos Around the World

Even though the vast majority of zoos & animal sanctuaries have a No-Dogs-Allowed policy – thankfully, there are some exceptions. Here are some dog-friendly zoos in the US and beyond:

  • Elmwood Park Zoo in Pennsylvania, US.
  • Henry Vilas Zoo in Wisconsin, US.
  • Cotswold Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom.
  • ZOOM Zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
  • Zoo Salzburg in Austria.
  • Aalborg in Denmark.

To sum up…

While we completely understand the pain of being apart from your canine companion, it is important for you to know why this rule exists. Zoos are specially designed public spaces that curate human interaction with the animal world.

Given the vast diversity of animal species in zoos, it is important that these animals have a safe & healthy physical environment. And remember, this rule is not only for the well-being of zoo animals – but equally for the safety of your dog, as well as to ensure that all visitors have a fun and comfortable zoo experience.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!