"Aedins Law" Passes, Making Petting Zoos Safer
A bill to set stricter sanitation requirements for petting zoos received final passage by the Legislature on Wednesday and now awaits Gov. Mike Easley's signature. The measure was prompted by an outbreak of bacterial infection that struck 108 visitors - more than half of them children - to petting zoos at the North Carolina State Fair last fall. The bill is called "Aedin's Law" in honor of 2-year-old Aeden Gray of Orlando, Fla., one of 15 children whose exposure led to a life-threatening kidney ailment. The law will require petting zoo operators to be inspected and obtain a permit from the state Agriculture Department. It also allows the department to set rules regarding animal care, hand-washing facilities, signs warning the public of health and safety issues, and any other requirements to protect visitors from potential harm. In April, the department announced stricter rules for animal exhibits that will apply to the upcoming state fair.