Public Zoo Law and Legal Definition

Public zoo is a park or an institution in which living animals are kept and usually exhibited to the public. It is also called zoological garden. It is a place provided by a municipal corporation for the housing, care, and exhibition of animals.

In the U.S., any public animal exhibit must be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Drug Enforcement Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and others. Also, the activities of zoos are regulated by laws including the Endangered Species Act, the Animal Welfare Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Further, zoos may be given accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) is a professional society composed of individuals with various backgrounds and interests that are devoted to advancing the knowledge and understanding of zoo animals and the management of zoos in the U.S.

According to some states the maintenance of a zoological garden in a public park by a city is a governmental function. Therefore the city is not liable for injuries inflicted on visitors by animals through the negligence of city officers or agents in not properly confining the animals. [McKinney v. San Francisco, 109 Cal. App. 2d 844 (Cal. App. 1952)]. However, the courts of the various states are in conflict upon the question as to liability for the negligence of a municipality in properly maintaining its streets and parks, and generally class parks. In Mississippi, while a city may maintain a zoo for educational purposes, it is not such an education that the city is required by law to furnish to the public. There is no mandatory duty upon the city either to maintain a park or to keep a zoo therein. The right is permissive rather than mandatory, and when the city undertakes to maintain a zoo and to keep therein dangerous and ferocious animals, it must be held to the strict duty of keeping them safely. [Byrnes v. Jackson, 140 Miss. 656 (Miss. 1925)].