Zoo Chief: Accusations of Mistreatment Are False

Reston Zoo/Credit: Reston ZooThe owner of the Reston Zoo and several other roadside zoos has spoken out on recent allegations that animals at several of his facilities are being mistreated.

Eric Mogensen, CEO of the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Florida (as well as Virginia Safari Park and the Reston Zoo in Virginia) said the Gulf Breeze Zoo, which has been the subject of recent Department of Agriculture allegations, was only cited for minor issues.

“All [issues] were corrected immediately,” Mogensen wrote in a letter to the community on the Gulf Breeze Zoo’s website. “We contest cited issues when we believe they are inaccurate. The zoo has no outstanding violations.”

“The staff at the Gulf Breeze Zoo cares deeply about our animals,” he added “There have been no signs of any animal abuse, and there won’t be.”

The Pensacola New Journal recently reported that Mogensen and his daughter Meghan, the Gulf Breeze Zoo director, were cited by the USDA for improper care of animals, including shooting an animal to euthanize it and giving improper veterinary care and shelter, among others.

In September 2012, Meghan Mogensen, then director of the Reston Zoo, was convicted of animal cruelty and sentenced to 30 days in jail in a Fairfax County court after she euthanized a sick wallaby by drowning him in a bucket. She later transferred to the Gulf Breeze Zoo.

There have also been recent complaints at the other Virginia zoos owned by the family.

“The staff at the Gulf Breeze Zoo cares deeply about our animals,” Mogensen wrote. “Our keepers, as well as staff in other departments, take their jobs seriously and always strive to do their best.”

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