Case 375 – Small children must be able to walk to participate in zoo boat ride


The enquirer was at a Zoo with her baby and was told “babes in arms” could not participate on the lazy river boat trip as they cannot walk, and children cannot be carried on board ‘for health and safety reasons.’ She then watched other small children (toddlers) get carried onto the boat instead of walking. When this was questioned the operator said that is the guidance given by the ride manufacturers.

Panel opinion

This is an interesting case and the panel feel the need to highlight several issues here:
The ride was very new and the operators chose to follow the manufacturer’s advice in the early days of operation which was sensible. The importance of explaining the reasons behind certain requirements at every stage in the process is key here. The concern which the manufacturer sought to address was that everyone accessing the boat must be able to walk on and off the boat for stability reasons.
This was then passed on via inadequate communication and training as “no babes in arms” So, whilst the ride operator was correct in refusing the enquirer access to the ride, the true concern was violated by allowing others whose children could walk to carry their children onto the boat!

The panel is pleased to hear that the Zoo is now looking for ways to ensure as many people enjoy the ride as possible whilst continuing to satisfy the true stability requirement based on their own experience of operating the ride and further discussion with the manufacturer.

Article source: