How to Start a Petting Zoo Business

Kids at a petting zoo

Are you wondering how to start a petting zoo business? Please continue reading to get more information about the steps involved in getting this type of venture started.

Planning Is Key

With any business that you are interested in starting, you should plan to spend a good portion of time doing research first. You will want to find out whether there is a market for your idea before you start putting any money into the business. If possible, visit other petting zoos and take notice of the way their operation is run. You will want to make note of the following:

  • numbers of animals they have on display
  • species of animals they display
  • mobile petting zoo or in a permanent location
  • fees charged to patrons

All of this is important information when you are thinking about how to start a petting zoo business. You also want to figure out a new or different angle to bring to the public so that your business stands out from other petting zoos.

How to Start a Petting Zoo Business: Steps Involved

  • Find a niche

By doing some research to find out what business owners are already offering, you can make sure that your petting zoo offers your customers something different. If there is a local petting zoo in a permanent location, then you may want to consider making yours mobile. You can market your services available to groups of various kinds, bring your petting zoo to birthday parties, or set up at local fairs as one of the attractions.

  • Choose a name and register your business

Once you have selected a name for your business, you will want to register it at the federal and state levels. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the place to register the company at the federal level, and you can register it in your state by contacting the Department of Revenue.

  • Get a license and arrange for insurance

To operate a petting zoo, you need to buy liability insurance. This coverage protects your assets in case someone is injured while at your petting zoo. An insurance company or agent that offers commercial coverage would be able to give you a quote.

If you are going to be displaying animals in the United States, you will need to have a Class C Exhibitor's License issued by the Department of Agriculture. This is a requirement for anyone operating a zoo or transporting animals from place to place for educational purposes.

  • Get a permit to display animals for your municipality

Each city has its own criteria for issuing a permit to display animals. Contact the local authorities to find out what you need to do to be issued a permit in your area.

  • Decide what kinds of animals you want to display

You will want to choose animals who are not afraid of being around people and who won't object to being touched or ridden on by visitors. You may be able to find animals for your petting zoo at local farms.

  • Find a location to house your animals

The location you choose could be a permanent one where the public can come to see your animals or one that you will use to house the animals only. Make sure that the facility is large enough to accommodate the number and kinds of animals you plan to display.

  • Buy your animals

Once you have a place to house your animals, you can buy them and move them into your facility. You will also need to have food and water on hand, as well as a budget for veterinary care. By this point, you may need to hire staff to help care for the animals.

  • Market your business

Marketing your business should be an ongoing activity. You can set up a web site, distribute flyers, take out ads in the local media, or contact fairs and special events directly to promote your business.

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