Charlotte Motor Speedway to have petting zoo for Christmas

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:


CONCORD, N.C. - Charlotte Motor Speedway kicked off its Christmas festivities on Monday night, which included lighting up more than three million lights and opening its Christmas Village and petting zoo.

It comes nearly two months after the deadly E. coli outbreak at the Cleveland County Fair, which was traced to its petting zoo .

Ivey Almond, who runs the Rockin' A Ranch Petting Zoo at the Speedway, said she's not worried this year.

"I make it a very, very top priority to have a clean environment," she said. "You feel like you hope people won't be scared to touch the animals. As far as I'm concerned, worried, no."

Almond explained the steps she's taking to try to keep the zoo as safe as possible -- steps she said she's taken every year.

She's installed a 6-inch kickboard around the animal pens to keep animal waste, which can transmit E. coli, inside the pens.

Each day, she said, they disinfect the walking surfaces with a bacteria-killing spray and a petting zoo attendant sweeps the ground, wipes the pens, and supervises.

They've also posted signs advising people to wash their hands.

The speedway has 18 hand-washing sinks with soap and water and eight hand-sanitizer pumps.

Almond said the hand sanitizer is a bonus, not a substitute for soap and water.

"If you walk in that door, you wash your hands when you leave," Almond said, adding that even if people do not touch the animals themselves, they need to clean their hands.

Some parents said they were still worried.

"I wouldn't risk it," Tanya Williams said.

But others said they are considering are considering going and that it's all about taking personal responsibility for keeping clean.