Keep an eye on your kid, how 'bout?

August 4, 2006

Sad story, but interesting discussion. Thanks, Minnesota Mom! -Elisa

This story in today’s Star Tribune annoyed me.…

A family of five meerkats was killed because a girl’s parents didn’t want to get her vaccinated for rabies after she was bitten while reaching over a four-foot wall into the exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo.  The meerkats had already been vaccinated for rabies, so it was purely precautionary.

I’m a mother as well as an animal lover, so I understand having some conflict here.  But from what I understand, getting rabies shots for humans isn’t that bad.  The CDC kids’ website says it consists of 6 shots in 30 days (given first at the site of the bite, then in the arm).  The CDC also says side effects are mild– soreness at the injection site, the usual things. (…)

And I’ve been to the meerkat exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo.  It would take a lot of effort to reach into the exhibit. I can’t envision a way to get down in there without practically standing on your head.  Which is to say, the parents had to be turning their heads for a significant amount of time for this to happen.  And 9 years old, while young, is not so young that they don’t or can’t understand the dangers of touching wild animals.  

It just seems the poor meerkats got the raw end of this deal. The parents should feel very, very sorry.


The meerkats, not surprisingly since they were vaccianted, did not have rabies. Apparently state health department rules require exotic animals to be tested for rabies if the one bitten declines treatment. The only way to test them is to kill them.