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Animal Policy

No animals may be brought onto Museum property, indoor or outdoor, with the exception of (1) service animals or animals in training to be service animals (see definitions below);  and (2) animals involved in Museum programs if approved in advance by the Museum; all as further set forth below.  Also as set forth below, no animals may be left unattended or in any vehicle on Museum property.

Service Animal Access

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is committed to providing excellent customer service to all children and families, including individuals with disabilities and individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Service animals play an important role in ensuring full participation in everyday life for people with disabilities and the Museum welcomes visitors with service animals and service animals in training.  The following policy has been established to clarify the Museum’s obligations and expectations related to service animal access. These terms are intended to be consistent with the ADA (28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c)). In the event it is determined that the ADA affords greater access and rights than those provided for below, the ADA will control.  

“Disability” means, with respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.

According to the ADA, "service animal" means any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. These tasks can include, but are not limited to:

  • Providing assistance with a mobility disability and/or providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability
  • retrieving items
  • assisting individuals who are blind or low vision with navigation
  • alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • pulling a wheelchair
  • assisting an individual during a seizure or alerting individuals to the presence of allergens
  • assisting individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors (i.e. responding in a specific way to a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during an anxiety attack or reminding someone with depression to take medication)

In some cases, miniature horses are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. In such cases, the Museum must make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to allow a miniature horse. Factors for determining whether to allow a miniature horse include the type, size, and weight of the miniature horse; whether the handler has sufficient control of the animal; whether the animal is housebroken; and whether the animal’s presence compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.

“Emotional support animals”, “comfort animals”, “companion animals”, and “therapy animals” that are not individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability are not considered service animals under the ADA. An animal’s mere presence as a means of comfort does not qualify it as a service animal. The Museum follows ADA requirements for service animals and does not allow animals other than service animals or service animals in training to accompany visitors.

The Museum recognizes the right of people with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals or service animals in training on Museum property.  People with service animals or service animals in training will be allowed full access to all areas where members of the public and business guests/contractors are normally allowed. Service animals or service animals in training must be under the control of their handlers. They must be on a leash, harness, or tether, unless that interferes with the animal’s ability to safely and effectively work or the individual is unable to use these devices because of a disability. In that case, the individual must maintain control through voice, signal, or other effective controls. 

When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, Museum staff may ask only two questions: (1) Is the animal required because of a disability? (2) What work or task has the animal been trained to perform? Museum staff may not require documentation of the person’s disability or the animal’s status as a service animal or service animal in training, nor may staff ask the animal to demonstrate its ability to perform the task or work.   

The Museum is not required to care for, clean up after, or supervise animals. The designated relief area for animals is the grass along the east side of Illinois Street, near the bus stop.  A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his or her service animal or service animal in training from Museum property unless: (1) the animal is not sufficiently controlled and the handler does not take effective action to control it; or (2) the animal is not housebroken.  In such cases, the animal’s handler should be given the opportunity to continue his or her visit at the Museum without the animal or during a time when these concerns can be eliminated. The Museum is not responsible for caring for or supervising the animal and it cannot be left unattended or in any vehicle on Museum property.

Animals in Vehicles

No visitors, staff, volunteers, contractors, or other persons are permitted to leave an animal unattended or in a vehicle in the Museum’s parking garage, surface lots, or elsewhere on Museum property. Museum staff may provide visitors with information for contacting a third party caregiver for their animals.

Animal Programs

The Museum believes that programs featuring live animals can be a part of fulfilling the Museum's mission to create extraordinary learning experiences that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. However, the educational value of having live animals interact with Museum visitors is outweighed by the need to protect the health and safety of Museum visitors, staff and volunteers.

No animal may be brought onto Museum property that, in the Museum's sole opinion, poses an unreasonable threat to the health and safety of any Museum visitor, staff member or volunteer, no matter how securely and properly the animal is handled. This prohibition includes but is not limited to venomous animals and animals that pose an unreasonable risk of injury through disease, biting, scratching, stinging or other actions. Even one child injured by an animal is unacceptable, not only because of the pain inflicted upon the child, but also because of the damage that may result to the Museum's reputation in the community as a safe place for children and families.

Procedure for Animal Programs

  1. In advance of any animals being brought onto Museum property, indoor or outdoor, the animals' exhibitor shall provide the Museum's Director of Security Operations with the following documents and information, so that the Museum can determine whether the animals may be brought onto Museum property in accordance with the policy stated above

    a. A complete list of the animals desired to be brought onto Museum property.

    b. Up-to-date documents showing the current program of veterinary care and vaccination records (for animals that can be vaccinated) for all such animals.

    c. Contact phone numbers for the exhibitor and the animals' veterinarian.

    d. A current certificate of liability insurance in an amount satisfactory to the Museum, naming the Museum as an additional insured.

    e. If applicable, a current USDA certification authorizing the exhibitor to exhibit the animals to be brought onto Museum property.

    Enforcement of this policy shall be performed by the Museum's Director of Security Operations and representatives of the Visitor Relations and Security Department who are on duty during the time when the animals are on Museum property.

  2. The Museum, in its sole discretion, may refuse to allow one or more animals from entering Museum property, or may impose requirements on how one or more animals may be handled or exhibited on Museum property, and shall notify the animals' exhibitor of the Museum's decision and requirements as promptly as possible. If the animals' exhibitor objects to any such decision or requirement, the exhibitor may opt not to bring the animal onto Museum property in lieu of complying with the Museum's requirements for that animal.
  3. The exhibitor shall ensure that all animals to be brought onto Museum property that can be vaccinated are timely and properly vaccinated against disease.
  4. The exhibitor shall ensure that all animals brought onto Museum property are humanely treated at all times.
  5. All animals shall be kept in cages unless they are being held by the exhibitor.
  6. The exhibitor shall furnish or arrange with the Museum to furnish hand-sanitizers to be used by all Museum visitors who touch the animals. The exhibitor also shall instruct Museum visitors to wash their hands after touching an animal.
  7. The exhibitor shall not permit any persons to bring food or drinks in the areas where the animals are exhibited.
  8. The exhibitor shall answer all Museum questions about the animals in a prompt manner, and in any event by the next business day.
  9. The Director of Security Operations, or his/her designee, may make an exception to this policy regarding animal programs, on a case-by-case basis.