Gonzalo Erdozain writes:
Hemorrhoid Helper, Buhba’s Butt Blaster, Ass in the Tub, and Screaming Sphincter are all hot sauce names, but could be Salmonellosis symptoms.
As part of our four-day tour of Table Rock and Branson, we decided to stop by the most visited attraction in Missouri: Bass Pro Shop’s headquarters.
Upon arrival, I noticed a few animals being showed to visitors. I later found out this informational activity was organized by the Wonders of Wildlife Museum.
Along with the owl, chinchilla, and table with deer antlers and other cool items, there was a snake being handled and a tortoise walking around for visitors to pet. I observed various children petting the tortoise and then walking away. I did not see any hand sanitizer when I was there. By the time I went back to see if I could find an adult supervisor to ask about Salmonella testing in the animals, the whole thing had been wrapped up, so I wrote Bass Pro Shop an e-mail. This is what I got:
“My name is … and I am the Director of Conservation Programs for Wonders of Wildlife Museum. The animal presentations that you are referring to was actually done by Wonders of Wildlife staff and volunteers and not Bass Pro.
“There is hand sanitizer available during every encounter, at the artifacts table and the staff reminds people to use it after touching the animals. All of the staff and volunteers are educated about zoonosis and the importance of washing your hands.
“All of our animals are seen weekly by our on staff veterinarian and we have an stringent examination schedule to ensure the health of our animals and the public.”
On paper, these are recommended procedures, but sometimes things get lost in translation. There were no adult supervisors at the time I walked by the event, and no hand sanitizing gel or hand hygiene station that I could see. Guidelines and regulations are only as good as how well they are followed and enforced. Rather than inspiring the next hot sauce:
• always wash hands after petting an animal, or being within an animal area, whether you pet the animal or not;
• within animal area, don’t eat, drink, smoke, or engage in any behavior that would facilitate fecal-oral route of transmission; and,
• avoid bringing personal items that could facilitate cross-contamination, like strollers or bags into the animal area.
These events are fun, entertaining, and informative, but they should also be safe.