Breastfeeding at the Zoo

Creative Commons License photo credit: desmorider

More and more, society is coming to recognize the benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfed babies have some advantages over formula-fed babies, in a number of categories. That doesn’t mean bottle feeding is going to harm your little one, just that there are some benefits to breastfeeding. Unfortunately, this leads to some potentially difficult situations.

It’s a sensitive topic, especially when you talk about breastfeeding in public. For example, consider one mother who recently visited the Houston Zoo. According to reports, the woman was approached by a zoo employee. The employee told the woman that she was not allowed to breastfeed in public, and insisted that the woman move into a first aid room where there was some more privacy.

The Houston Zoo does have private nursing areas for breastfeeding mothers. However, the areas are optional, and there is no rule that says women cannot breastfeed elsewhere in the zoo.

According to a representative of the Houston Zoo, employees are given regular reviews of the zoo policies, including regarding the issue of breastfeeding in public. More than likely, this was one individual staff member who was speaking out of turn.

The zoo also offered an apology, making it clear that this wasn’t regular practice at the zoo and that breastfeeding moms are very welcome.

According to state law in Texas, mothers are able to breastfeed anywhere. These state laws help to encourage breastfeeding and make it easier on the mother. More and more, breastfeeding advocates are working hard to help people see breastfeeding as a socially normal way to feed a baby.

The  woman indicated that she would consider returning to the zoo, and hoped that her story would help to raise awareness of the issue and help promote that goal of social acceptance.

Currently, 45 states have laws protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed in public.

So, what do you think? Should breastfeeding in public be regulated by law? Should it be encouraged because of the large number of health benefits? Have you ever faced this kind of persecution or been hassled because you were breastfeeding in public?


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