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The Dangers of Petting Zoos

February 16, 2011

Re: “The farm comes to school,” Feb. 10. You’d think that the educators at St. George’s Preschool would be aware that petting zoos are hotbeds of E. coli bacteria, and that numerous children have been infected with the potentially deadly bug after contact with animals.

Infections can spread through direct animal contact or simply by touching the surroundings near an animal exhibit. Hand sanitizer does nothing to prevent spread of E. coli by inhalation, nor through indirect contact. E. coli has been linked to sippy cups, pacifiers and even chewing gum. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as many state departments of health, have issued public-health warnings about casual animal contact.

These displays are bad for animals, too. Forced to interact with a stream of excited and sometimes careless children, animals in petting zoos can become depressed and anxious.

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The last thing any parent or teacher wants is for a child to get sick. Avoiding petting zoos and sticking with books, videos and stories is safer.

Jennifer O'Connor

PETA Foundation

Norfolk, Va.

A Vote for Kamar

I first started to really get to know Charlie Kamar when I interviewed him for a fourth-grade elementary school project. Through the years I have come to respect him as a role model for his perseverance and the positive way he embraces life and I feel fortunate now to call him my friend.

Charlie possesses all of the personal attributes to which I aspire: integrity, dedicated work ethic, responsibility to others and an optimistic, positive personality.

Leaving behind a war-torn homeland 20 years ago, he came to this country the way all of our families have done at one time or another to search for a more hopeful future. In the passion he shares during our conversations at his Union 76 station on Foothill Boulevard or over an occasional hot dog at Dodger Stadium, I have seen the reflection of the many immigrants that travel to America with the character and determination that built our country’s foundation.

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