BOGART, Ga. — A toddler ended up in the hospital after his parents said he was attacked by lemurs at a petting zoo in Bogart, Georgia Saturday.
"He’s got head injuries on the back of his head, scratches on his neck, and a scratch, a laceration under his eye," his father Ronnie Carroll said, as he shared photos of his 17-month-old son, Lawrence’s injuries after visiting the Half Moon Petting Zoo in Bogart. "I just assumed my son was going to pet goats and things like that."
However, Carroll said when they went into the cage for the lemurs, they attacked the toddler.
"I was holding him in my arms and as soon as we opened the gate to the lemurs, the lemurs jumped on my son...my son's head was just gushing blood," Caroll said.
11Alive talked to the petting zoo's owner Marek Lipold. He said he was right behind the family when they went into the cage and still does not know how this happened.
"They (Lemurs) have no nails, they can bite but they never bite me, they never bite anybody," he said.
Lipold shared that he only opened the petting zoo in July as a hobby, after first buying a camel, and then the lemurs. He also has horses, a pony, and llamas. He said if any animals were to cause concern around small children, it would normally be the larger ones, making this even more surprising to him.
Carroll said now they’re afraid Lawrence will need a rabies shot.
"These animals have not been vaccinated, we're really concerned about what diseases my son may have encountered by getting scratched or bitten by a primate," Caroll said.
Lipold said a vet had checked out the lemurs the day before.
"She said she never gave shots to lemurs before, so they don't need the shots and they're young– they're in the cage, they don't go anywhere,” Lipold said.
While 11Alive was at the petting zoo Monday, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources showed up to talk to Lipold about the alleged attack. The agency said it’s evaluating how best to observe the lemurs for several days and will likely place them somewhere else.
Carroll said his son appears to be doing okay. However, "the trauma me and my wife went through, still going through it, because at the end of the day we still don’t know whether my son has rabies or not," he said.
Lipold said he is happy to work with law enforcement to get the lemurs tested for any diseases but he said ultimately he will likely close down the petting zoo for good.