Is it Safe to Visit the Zoo While Pregnant? (Explained)

Pregnancy opens up a new chapter in a woman’s life, but the journey itself can get boring at times – waiting around at home, feeling the baby kick ever so often. A quick bit of sightseeing is a nice way to breeze past that tedium, but is it safe for moms to go to the zoo while pregnant?

Pregnant women can go to the zoo, but they need to take extra precautions to ensure their safety. Make sure to prepare water and lots of snacks to stay sated throughout the day.  There will likely be a ton of tourists around, so make sure to keep your mask on and make generous use of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer as needed.

Some animals can also transmit diseases to humans – these are called zoonotic diseases and can infect people in many different ways, with pregnant women especially vulnerable. Fortunately, all you need to do to stay safe is to maintain a healthy distance from the animals.

While you can go to the zoo while pregnant, you need to contend with the risk of diseases, fatigue, overheating, and dehydration. Once those are dealt with, you’re in the clear to enjoy your day!

Visiting the Zoo While Pregnant: What to be Mindful Of

Stock up on the Essentials

mom packing her kid's lunch

Most zoos are in open, outdoor areas with the sun and other elements bearing down hard. Your trip can get uncomfortable, and we wouldn’t advise making use of their rest areas for longer than needed. Those spots are likely communal, and you don’t want to be exposed to crowds while pregnant – even if it’s just to buy refreshments. Plan ahead and stock up beforehand!

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The Essentials

Bring snacks to munch on while you walk – sandwiches, crackers, and trail mix are nice, energy-rich options that are also easy to pack. Bring a big bottle of water to ensure that you won’t have to rely on expensive purchases or public fountains on the premises. It also pays to bring bug repellant, as these pests carry a more significant risk of disease than any of the other animals here!

woman holding a bag and mask

Keep something antiseptic on you, as most of your trip will be spent in areas with high foot traffic and many vectors of secondhand exposure. Always disinfect your hands after going through an exhibit, and make sure to keep your mask on when near other people. We’d also advise that you bring an extra mask, in case your current one ends up ruined or otherwise compromised.

Lastly, you’ll want a pair of nice, comfy shoes. The bulk of your zoo trip will be spent walking around, and slippers or sandals won’t offer you much protection. You’ll have a tougher time walking around rough terrain, end up more exposed to some nasty bacteria, and worst of all, someone in the crowd may end up stepping on your toes – and that’ll hurt without shoes on!

Be Mindful of Zoonotic/Cross-Species Diseases

woman kissing a deer

The other thing pregnant women going to the zoo need to consider is cross-species or Zoonotic diseases. These types of diseases bypass the species gap, and a lot of the more transmissible infections (rabies, influenza, dengue) pose serious risks for pregnant women and their babies.

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Due to the many diseases under this category, we’ll instead focus on their most common vectors of transmission  – and how you can avoid exposing yourself to them.

Vectors

A zoonotic disease can be transmitted through bodily fluids, such as saliva. Rabies is the most notable disease in this category, and has awful – often fatal – effects on the human body if left untreated. Thankfully, this is also the most limited means of transmission, and you can avoid most of the tangible risk of this happening simply by keeping your distance from the animals.

This unfortunately means that petting zoos are out of the question while pregnant – even if you’ve been vaccinated for rabies beforehand.  

Another vector of transmission can be through the animal’s urine or stool, and your biggest threat here would be potential E. coli specimens. This can also be avoided by steering clear of the exhibit or at least minimizing the time you spend in that enclosure.

The last notable vector – but also the most dangerous one – is airborne transmission, with influenza being the most notable example. Keep your mask on in the vicinity, and make sure to thoroughly disinfect afterwards.

Overall though, pregnant women will be fine at the zoo – so long as they maintain a healthy distance from both the animals and their living quarters.

Final Thoughts

Can I go to the zoo while pregnant? Absolutely, but you can’t just walk in and sightsee. Thorough preparation is needed so your day trip ends as happy and healthy as it started.

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Pack snacks and water to last you the day, steer clear of crowded, communal areas, and avoid getting too close to the animals and their homes. Once that’s settled, you’re in the clear! But do make sure to consult your doctor first – it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your kid.

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