Breastfeeding at the zoo: Taboo?

August 13, 2011 4:56:39 PM PDT
A woman says she was breastfeeding at the Houston Zoo when she was told to feed her baby in private, but moms who breastfeed in public are protected by state law.

The zoo is now apologizing for one of its employees who may have acted out of her own passion.

It's a sensitive topic, and everyone has an opinion.

"If you got to do it, you got to do it. I mean, just keep it covered," mother Jessica Millirons said.

"You can't be offended. That's natural. That's part of the world," father Dennis Garner said.

But one out-of-town mother who was visiting the Houston Zoo on Friday says she was offended by a zoo employee.

"One of the ladies that works there came up and said that they didn't like moms to do that in public," Michelle Page explained.

Page says she was embarrassed when the zoo employee asked her to move her breastfeeding session into a private first aid room.

Brian Hill with the Houston Zoo says they do have private areas for nursing moms, but they're just optional.

"We have no restriction on public breastfeeding," Hill said.

He adds that zoo employees regularly review general policies, including public breastfeeding, at staff meetings. This case, he says, may be an employee speaking out of turn.

"We sincerely apologize that the message was not delivered," he said.

Jessica Martin-Weber is a mother of five and founder of the blog 'The Leaky Boob.' She says that what happened to Page should not happen in public, especially at such a family-friendly place.

"I want to see breastfeeding socially as a normal way to feed a baby, not just among women but among children and men," Martin-Weber said.

Texas is one of 45 states in which mothers can breastfeed in any location.

Page didn't file a formal complaint and says she would come back to the Houston Zoo, as long as no one says anything to her about breastfeeding her baby.


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