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Petting Zoos


Before you submit your application

  • 1
    No wild, ferocious, fierce, or dangerous animals are permitted in petting zoos. Prohibited animals include, but are not limited to: (i) exotic species, (ii) behavior modified wild animals, (iii) hybrid offspring of domestic animals, (iv) wild dogs and cats, (v) primates, (vi) bears, (vii) wolves, (viii) ferrets, (ix) bulls, (x) stallions, (xi) male llamas, (xii) individual domestic animals having a history of unruly behavior or causing harm. The Department may confiscate prohibited animals.
    • 2
      Sick, diseased, injured, or distressed animals may not be used in petting zoos, or held at the site of a petting zoo. In the event that an animal becomes sick or injured while in a petting zoo, the operator must seek immediate veterinary care for the animal. Written proof of veterinary care is required. Exhibitors must arrange for local, on-call veterinary emergency care in advance of the petting zoo date.
      • 3
        All ponies, horses and other equines used in pony rides, horse rides, carriage rides, hayrides, or other work for profit, are considered rental horses and must be licensed with VPHS.
        • 4
          Each horse or other Equidae (e.g., zebras, donkeys, mules) must have a current copy of a negative Coggins test performed within the past twelve months.
          • 5
            Prior to receiving permission to operate a petting zoo in New York City, each animal must have a completely and appropriately filled-out health certificate from an accredited, licensed veterinarian issued within 30 days of the animal's date of arrival in New York City (i.e. list type, name of vaccines [serial number, if applicable] and tests administered, e.g. rabies, brucellosis, tuberculosis, Coggins, etc.). The veterinarian's physical office address (not a PO Box) and telephone number must be included.
            • 6
              For those animals from New York State: Health certificates are required for intrastate movement of animals into NYC (no state approval is required).
              • 7
                Provide proof of valid liability insurance coverage.
                • 8
                  For petting zoos taking place in public places, the City of New York requires zoo operators to submit a permit application with the Mayor's Office of City-wide Event Coordination and Management (CECM). Proof that a CECM permit application has been submitted must be included with the application for a Petting Zoo permit.
                  • 9
                    Written proof of current vaccination against rabies, at least 14 days prior to arrival in NYC for all animals for which there is an approved and licensed rabies vaccine ( i.e., all horses, cattle, sheep, etc. that are three months of age or older ). For those mammals where an approved vaccine is not required for licensing, vaccinations are recommended.
                    • 10
                      For those animals coming to New York City from outside New York State: The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Veterinary Public Health Services requires Exhibitors to receive New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets approval of health certificates. For review and approval of health certificates, please contact the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets at (518) 457-3502 or fax to (518) 485-7773 or see the link to New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, above.
                      • 11
                        See New York State requirements concerning: More info
                          • Horses and other Equidae: equine infectious anemia within the past 12 months.
                          • Cattle, Antelope, Bison: brucellosis, anaplasmosis, bluetongue, vesicular stomatitis, and tuberculosis.
                          • Swine: brucellosis and pseudorabies.
                          • Sheep, Aoudad: bluetongue.
                          • Goats, Llamas, Alpacas, Camels: brucellosis and tuberculosis.
                          • Deer and Elk: brucellosis, tuberculosis, bluetongue, and anaplasmosis.
                          • Bats, Large Cats, Owls, Skunks, Sugar Gliders, Flying Squirrels, and Wolves: require New York State Special Licenses.
                          • Contact New York State Department of Conservation ("ENCON") at (518) 402-8985 for additional information.
                      • 12
                        There is no fee for this type of permit.
                        • 13
                          For assistance with the requirements for applying for this permit, call the DOHMH Office of Veterinary Public Health Services at (646) 632-6604.
                          • Ready to Apply?

                            Steps to apply in person:

                          • 1
                            Complete an Animal Exhibit Permit Application form. Information about each animal to be exhibited must be submitted.
                            • 2
                              Describe the date, time, and complete address of the petting zoo.
                              • 3
                                A complete list of all animals to be exhibited along with veterinary health certificates for each animal, issued within 30 days of arrival into New York City.
                                • 4
                                  Provide a detailed description of planned safety measures to protect the public.
                                  • 5
                                    Detail proposed methods for sanitary control and waste removal.
                                    • 6
                                      Gather all the documentation that must be submitted along with the application. This information may depend on the type of animals being exhibited in the zoo.
                                      • 7
                                        Applications and all required documentation must be submitted no less than five business days prior to the animal's arrival and all paperwork must be up-to-date.
                                        • 8

                                          Complete all required paperwork and mail or fax the completed paperwork to the DOHMH Office of Veterinary Public Health Services. 

                                            NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DoHMH)

                                            Office of Veterinary Public Health Services

                                            125 Worth Street, Box 66

                                            New York NY 10013
                                            Fax (646) 364-1801
                                          • 9
                                            Requests will not be considered until all paperwork (with required state approvals, as necessary) is submitted and all conditions for exhibiting animals in a petting zoo have been met.
                                            • 10
                                              The Office of Veterinary Pest Services will inform applicants if the petting zoo permit will be issued.