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Disease concerns stop zoo from allowing animal petting

Date Posted: 2010-05-28

Okinawa City Children’s Park and Zoo has changed its policy of permitting customers to touch and pet animals, citing fears of animal foot and mouth disease.

In mainland Japan, Miyazaki Prefecture reports cows and pigs have contracted the epidemic disease, sweeping through herds so quickly it’s difficult to control. Okinawa City Children’s Park and Zoo says it’s stopped allowing touching, at least for the short term. “Right now, Miyazaki Prefecture has declared a state of emergency,” says Zoo Chairman Genwa Higa. “The most important thing is to protect against infection; we know there’s no infection to humans, but humans can bring the virus to animals.”

A valuable seed bull in Miyazaki Prefecture that has produced 220,000 offspring from artificial inseminations contracted the disease and had to be killed. Artiodactyls hoofed animals contract the foot and mouth disease easily. Zoo officials say giraffes, pigs and goats are very susceptible to the disease, but adds that while not artiodactyls, elephants can contract the disease as well.

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