My daughter has had a service dog for over three years, and for the most part we’ve not had a problem going out and about and doing our thing in public spaces. She’s a huge animal lover, and she wants to go to a safari park, where she can get up close and personal with wild animals. I’ve contacted several safari parks and they say that service animals are not permitted. How can this be? I thought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all businesses had to allow service animals. I totally don’t understand this.
Well, basically it’s because of a little-known exemption in the law. Under the ADA, zoos and other facilities must make reasonable modifications in their regular policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to afford an individual with disability the same goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations offered to others. That said, there is a special exemption in the law for open air zoological exhibits. This pertains to things like walk-in aviaries and other exhibits that don’t have the animals fenced off from the guests. Unfortunately, safari parks fall under this category, so they are within the law when they exclude service animals. On the plus side, the law doesn’t require them to exclude service animals, so if they feel it’s safe they can allow them.