The spooky season is upon us, and pumpkin patches are prime destinations for enjoying autumnal activities. If you plan on going pumpkin picking, don’t fall for places with attractions that exploit our fellow animals, such as petting zoos, pony rides, and animal-feeding interactions.
There’s nothing festive about petting zoos, where animals often languish in distress, forced to interact with crowds of visitors all day long and deprived of adequate food, water, rest, and veterinary care. Goats, sheep, donkeys, pigs, and horses used by these operations often suffer from painful, overgrown hooves, which can lead to serious infections.
These exploitative businesses often confine incompatible animals together in inadequate enclosures, leading to fights and injuries. They’re also hotbeds of zoonotic diseases and pathogens, including E. coli —a potentially fatal bacteria that can spread from animals to humans and which has infected numerous children who have visited these facilities.
This pumpkin-picking season, don’t give your money to places that use animals for entertainment. Here are a few pumpkin patches to avoid:
This roadside zoo in Media, Pennsylvania, has a history of failing to provide animals with proper veterinary care, safe shelter, and adequate food, water, and bedding.
Following a complaint from PETA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act at this operation due to its apparently severe neglect of birds and other animals. USDA inspectors found feather loss on more than 50 birds, 16 birds who lacked clean water for drinking or bathing, no proper filtration in multiple ponds, a buildup of fecal matter and debris in multiple enclosures, and incompatible animals housed together.
There was also no written veterinary care program and no environmental enhancement plan to promote the psychological well-being of birds, which can lead to behavioral, social, health, and psychological problems.
Lazy 5 Ranch
The USDA has repeatedly cited this Mooresville, North Carolina, roadside zoo for failing to ensure the safety of the animals there. Issues include allowing guests to drive through the facility in their vehicles without supervision; not installing proper barriers between animals and the public, leading to visitors being injured; and failing to provide a limping female blackbuck antelope with proper veterinary care.
This roadside attraction in Pingree Grove, Illinois, features an exhibit called “Animal Land,” in which dozens of animals—including exotic ones such as camels, kangaroos, llamas, zebras, and a giraffe—are trucked in from a supplier in Wisconsin every fall to languish in small, abysmal enclosures for humans to gawk at. In 2015, a bear cub died there, exposing the facility’s apparent failure to care for animals. Dozens of visitors have sent complaints to PETA and posted negative reviews online after witnessing the suffering at this operation.
A roadside zoo is a roadside zoo—even if you dress it up with a pumpkin patch. Please don’t buy tickets for your family to visit these or any other places that offer exploitative animal attractions. Instead, explain to your children why your family doesn’t support cruel petting zoos. No matter what the conditions at these facilities may be, parading animals around for children to poke and prod is cruel and speciesist. There are plenty of places that offer exclusively animal-free activities, like apple picking, tractor hayrides, and Christmas tree cutting.
Take action below to help animals who are suffering at roadside zoos: