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Reston Zoo accused of mistreating animals | News

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Reston Zoo accused of mistreating animals

VIENNA, Va. (WUSA9) -- The Reston Zoo in Fairfax County is facing a federal complaint for the mistreatment of its animals, according to a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The accusations filed by the USDA reach back years. If the accusations are found to be true, the Reston Zoo and two other zoos owned by the same family could lose their licenses and be shut down. You can find a copy of the complaint here:

The allegations made in this USDA complaint include details on the deaths of two animals in the zoo's care, including one that was intentionally drowned.

Some of the allegations have surfaced before, but with the USDA now involved, the allegations carry new weight.

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Behind the family-friendly facade, the Reston Zoo and two others owned by Eric Mogensen of Natural Bridge, Va. have mistreated their animals for years, according to the USDA.

The most serious accusation surfaced in 2012, when Mogensen's daughter Meghan drowned an injured Wallaby in a bucket and threw its corpse in a dumpster. Meghan Mogensen was convicted of animal cruelty in that case and now works at another Mogensen Zoo in Florida.

"This isn't a matter of having a dirty barn with cobwebs in the corner," said Humane Society of the United States Captive Wildlife Specialist Lisa Wathne. "These are multiple instances of animals not being provided veterinary care, animals being left out in freezing temperatures and subsequently dying. These are very blatant animal care violations that no animal should be subjected to."

Other complaints include lack of adequate veterinary care, animals being left outside in freezing temperatures and barriers that failed to properly separate zoo animals from their human visitors.

Now the humane society is calling for all three zoos to be shut down.

"Whenever people visit roadside zoos, its a pretty safe bet that they are contributing to animal suffering," said Wathne.

WUSA9's Garrett Haake reported that Mogensen hasn't responded to any requests for comment on the accusations levied against him, but told a Florida newspaper that he denies all the claims against his zoos.

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