Stop University from Hosting Petting Zoo

Stop University from Hosting Petting Zoo

Target: Mark Wrighton, Chancellor of Washington University, St. Louis

Goal: Stop Washington University’s petting zoo events

Washington University in St. Louis hosts a regular petting zoo for its students during study periods in order to relax them. However, the owner of this petting zoo, Cindy Farmer, has been cited numerous times for keeping animals in terrible conditions and has received warnings from the US Department of Agriculture regarding her animal care. On one occasion, inspectors found a dead goat that had been denied veterinary care. There are many other ways in which students can relax without enabling the suffering of animals. Sign this petition to make Washington University reconsider ways to help its students.

Farmer’s petting zoo is particularly bad, but the conditions that animals have to suffer in “good” petting zoos are not much better. Animals are regularly transported in dark, cramped conditions and have to suffer raucous environments and mishandling by the public. A recent incident involving Farmer’s petting zoo at the Washington University in which a two-month-old bear cub bit at least 14 students caused a rabies scare. The bear cub was obviously too distressed at the overwhelming amount of human contact that it lashed out and, sadly, had to be euthanized.

Petting zoos, while fun for humans, are not fun for animals and can lead to incidents like the aforementioned bear cub biting. Washington University should find other ways to entertain its students without contributing towards the distress of animals. Sign this petition to pressure Washington University to consider alternative methods of student recreation.


Dear Mr. Wrighton,

After reading of the recent incident of a bear cub that bit several of your students as part of a petting zoo event, I am writing to encourage you to consider alternative ways of providing entertainment to your students.

Cindy Farmer, the owner of the petting zoo you have been using for several years, has received warnings from the US Department of Agriculture regarding the conditions in which she keeps her animals. Farmer has been cited as caging animals in dangerous, cramped and feces-strewn environments, as well as causing the death of a goat by failing to provide veterinary care.

Petting zoos involve transporting distressed animals to unfamiliar locations where they are subjected to loud, busy, and over-stimulating environments. The recent incident with the bear cub biting was not the fault of the bear, rather the fault of the owner for allowing such an animal to be subjected to such an overwhelming environment.

In the future, I urge you to please consider more humane alternatives for student events. Please find ways to provide an excellent day’s entertainment without contributing to the suffering of animals.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: jona3 via Pixabay

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  1. Helene Beck Helene Beck says:

    I wrote directly to chancellor Mark Wrighton at Washington University and voiced my opinion about petting zoos in general and this one in particular. He responded:
    “Thanks for your input! Our students organized the “petting zoo”, and we will make sure that the organizing group is more attentive to the issues you have raised.


    Mark S. Wrighton”
    I was hoping that he would cancel all future petting zoos, but apparently he wants to continue. Very bad! Keep the pressure on this university and tell them not to abuse animals!

  2. Is this an university for infantilism and dumbness?

  3. Stan Benton says:

    This was a bit of a learning experience for me. I always assumed that petting zoos were a place where animal lovers could show animals that some humans cared about them. But I did always worry about young punks hurting some of the animals they were supposed to be “petting”, or possibly bad management not caring properly for the animals. This “not caring properly” could be a problem any place where animals are kept, and it’s good that certain organizations keep a lookout for such things.

  4. Kae Blecha, OTR says:

    I’m sure that the students who organized the petting zoo were well intentioned, but they may be idealistic and don’t have the life experience needed to fully understand that others may not have the animals’ best interests at heart. That’s what chancellors and universities are for. You need to continue to guide these students to make more informed choices. Ditch the petting zoo. Furthermore, you need to guide the authorities to act against the owner of the zoo because she sounds self-seving and abusive. THAT would provide a better education and sense of accomplishment for the students.

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