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Petting zoo opens in Hogansville

There’s a new camel in town, as well as a few lemurs, water buffalo, alpacas and more.

After almost a year of working with the USDA and preparing the property, Iron P Homestead, LLC Exotic Petting Zoo and Events has opened its gates in Hogansville.

“We just got licensed by the USDA, and that’s a big chunk of it and why it takes so long. They have to make sure everything is good to go and getting a license is no easy task,” said zoo co-owner Brandon Leo. “We have a good bit set up, but we still have to do a lot with the farm and signage and things like that.”

Over the next few years, Iron P Homestead plans to add more animals and renovate the property more.

Just recently, co-owners Leo, Cody and Laura Pringle merged farms and bought neighboring land to add to the zoo.

“Since we already have things set up, we figured why not go ahead and start letting in small groups, private sessions and parties?” Leo said. “Our plan is to be open for walkthroughs with people and [allow] people to have hands-on experiences with the animals.”

On Aug. 1, the zoo hosted an open house for locals to visit the zoo for free and see all the animals for the first time.

“We had probably 1,000 people come through in that one day,” Leo said. “We were expecting maybe 300. On normal days, we let them roam in their pastures or enclosures. Then, when we are open for events or tours like Saturday, we will bring them out in pens and things for customers to see and be hands-on with them.”

Leo said they want to differentiate themselves from other surrounding zoos and want to make a name for themselves in Georgia over the next few years.

“We are going to renovate and bulldoze the whole left pasture, which will clear up so much more acreage for the animals and will really give a solid set up for everything,” Leo said. “We will also bring the animals to you for birthday parties and things like that. If you want to hold a lemur, you’re gonna hold a lemur. If you want to take a ride on the camel, we will make it happen.”

Currently, private tours are available by appointment only. To set up an appointment, email ironphomesteadzoo@gmail.com or message them on Facebook. The cost is $20 per person with a minimum of five guests and maximum of 10 guests.

The zoo will be open to the public the first weekend of every month beginning September 2020. Saturday and Sunday the gates will open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. 

“This has been a dream come true because I have been wanting to do this for a very long time,” Leo said. “We have always been rodeo people and worked with animals. This was a big step, but we are ready for it.”