Half Moon Petting Zoo in Bogart, Georgia, has been cited with 13 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act after a child was injured by a lemur.
Half Moon Petting Zoo is a roadside zoo owned by Marek Lipold that first opened in July 2021.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report indicates that on March 19, 2022, Lipold allowed a zoo patron to enter a ring-tailed lemur enclosure unaccompanied for about five minutes. The zoo patron’s husband and one-year-old child then requested access to the lemur enclosure. Documents indicate that upon entering the enclosure the lemurs jumped on the child’s head and shoulders. The child was scratched under his eye and on the back of his head, an injury that bled.
The child’s father, Ronnie Carroll, posted about the incident on social media.
“As we entered the entrance my son was attacked by a lemur,” he said. “We called an ambulance and filed a police report. Nothing has been done to this petting zoo and the animals have not been contained.”
Lipold told 11Alive news that he was unsure how the child was injured by the lemurs.
“They have no nails,” he said. “They can bite but they never bite me; they never bite anybody.”
According to the Louisville Zoo, ring-tailed lemurs have nails on all digits except their index toe, which contains a sharp claw used for grooming.
Roadside Zoo News reported the child's injury to the USDA who launched an investigation. The USDA inspector cited Half Moon Petting Zoo with a critical violation for the incident, noting that neither of the lemurs in the enclosure had a leash, nor were they recall trained for public interactions.
“This direct contact with the animals, in the current manner of public interaction, failed to protect the public from harm and is an indication that the animals are not trained and are not under control,” the inspector wrote.
The inspector found that the only employees at Half Moon Petting Zoo are Lipold and a family member who do not have the knowledge, background or experience in proper husbandry to adequately care for the two lemurs.
The USDA found that the lemurs’ diet was not complete and balanced, Lipold had failed to provide environmental enhancement to the lemurs and he was conducting public lemur interactions without a plan in place for conducting the interactions and without sufficient knowledge of how the lemurs would react to certain patrons including children.
“At least one interaction was allowed by the licensee without an attendant present that culminated in an injury to a member of the public,” the inspector wrote in her report. “When asked what background they have with lemurs the licensee stated ‘the person who sold them to me taught me.’”
Other violations included:`
Failing to maintain acquisition records for two ring-tailed lemurs.
Failing to have a food receptacle for rabbits which resulted in rabbit food pellets and hay on the ground which was scattered and mixed in with feces.
Unclean and unsanitary drinking water for rabbits.
Inadequately sanitized rabbit enclosures.
Failing to have an adequate perimeter fence around the lemurs’ enclosure.
Insufficient public barriers surrounding the lemurs’ enclosure.
Housing lemurs in a primary enclosure that is insufficiently constructed to protect the animals from injury and prevent them from escaping.
Failing to sanitize lemur food dishes.
Insufficiently sanitizing lemur enclosures.
Lipold was cited with 12 non-critical violations and one critical violation for the infractions. Half Moon Petting Zoo remains open. It is unclear if the facility is still allowing the public to directly interact with their lemurs.
Download Half Moon Petting Zoo's March 2022 USDA violation report: