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Speak Out: Does Verdict Alter Your Zoo Plans?

Reston Zoo director Meghan Mogensen was found guilty of cruelty to animals and possession of a controlled substance in death of a wallaby last winter. Will you still visit the Reston Zoo?

Meghan Mogensen, the director of the was found guilty by a Fairfax County General District Court judge late on Friday for her role in the death of an injured Parma wallaby last January.

Judge Ian O'Flaherty sentenced Mogensen to more than $1,200 in fines and 30 days in jail.  Her attorney says he will appeal the ruling.

Mogensen told investigators she injected the animal to euthanize him because he was suffering.  A former employee said Mogensen drowned the animal in a bucket and threw his body in a dumpster. The employee, Ashley Rood, then called the authorities.

Read the details of Friday's bench trial here.

Friday's testimony by Rood and a series of veterinary experts offered some unsettling details of animal treatment at the zoo.

Does the verdict - as well as some of the details of the animal treatment - change plans to visit the zoo? Tell us in the comments.

reston on my laurels October 01, 2012 at 05:25 PM
I found it cramped, dirty and sad. And this was within the past 12 months.
Uncle Smartypants October 01, 2012 at 08:17 PM
DIScouraging someone to "not to visit" would be the same as ENcouraging them to visit.
Connie Hartke October 01, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Very good points. Sure wish there was a buyer out there, but in the meantime, there is good reason to worry about the welfare of the animals, especially as their revenue plummets by those of us who will not patronize this business.
debbie schneider October 01, 2012 at 11:10 PM
i certainly agree, these people should no longer be with animals. Its absolutely disgusting...... Meghan should have a 5 year prison sentence thus a fine of $100,000....... There probably was more suffering than we know................ Hope she gets hers...................
Reston Momma 41 October 02, 2012 at 12:48 AM
My son is three and we have had annual passes for the last two years. It has been a fun place to meet other friends and have playdates. In light of the conviction, we will never go to the Reston Zoo again while it is under the current ownership.
edith October 02, 2012 at 01:06 AM
I find it shocking that the zoo has not issued a comment, or publicly acknowledged the conviction. I find the sentence far too lenient. The only thing that makes me feel a tiny bit better about the shockingly lenient sentence is that this woman is going to have this hanging over her head for the rest of her life -- this is going to follow her around. Her career as a zoo director is over, certainly. But she also probably can't go into law enforcement, education, and numerous other careers. She can't adopt a child. She's almost got it worse than if she were in jail and taken care of. She's got to support herself on the outside, where any sane, rational person would never hire her or trust her with something important.
Karen Goff October 02, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I don't know about that. It is a conviction, yes, but not a felony, only a misdemeanor. Any lawyers want to chime in in case I am wrong?
Chris October 02, 2012 at 03:17 AM
I would definitely still visit! This incident doesn't surprise me in the least. I guess hiring a vet would be really expensive for the zoo owner. Maybe the zoo owner should have been allowed to administer medicine.
Emily October 02, 2012 at 08:55 AM
If they couldn't afford to hire qualified help, they shouldn't be running the place, plan and simple. Why should the owner be allowed to administer medications without having the proper education? To me, that is like suggesting we should all be able to go around and prescribe ourselves drugs. Just because they are animals doesn't mean they don't deserve quality care.
Erica Rose-Manz October 02, 2012 at 11:13 AM
I loved the zoo and so do did my kids despite the fact that the animals did seem neglected and overfed all day long. I won't go back because all I would think about is that poor wallaby! Its a shame too since its only 5 minutes from us. They did tell me once when we were there that they had to close the new bird sanctuary for the day because when there are too many kids, the birds get stepped on and killed.
Andrew Lawson October 02, 2012 at 12:06 PM
The director person in reference here has also erroneously given a misleading name and address to the court. Her married name is Meghan Frink and she lives on Woodcrest Dr. in Northpoint Reston. She exhibits inexcusable behavior - there are other actions of hers that others have, unknowingly to her, witnessed that would be even more shocking. Andrew L.
Cindy Williams October 02, 2012 at 12:18 PM
So animal cruelty is fine with you, as long as you get to enjoy it?
Cindy Williams October 02, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I went there once years ago. Have heard rumblings over the years about neglect and cruelty so have not gone back. I agree that the owner is also a problem and will not go back until the Zoo is sold to someone else who hopefully will do a better job running it.
Margaret Perry October 02, 2012 at 12:44 PM
As stated on FB: I like the Reston Zoo and think that it is a wonderful local asset. HOWEVER, I wish that someone else (who loves animals) could/would buy it and run it properly. I wish I could afford it. And honestly I think it would get more business if it weren't SOOO expensive. I think Ms. Mogensen's dad should not keep the Reston Zoo. It appears that his number 1 goal is money and not the animals or even it's visitors.
Bob Myers October 02, 2012 at 12:56 PM
I wonder if the woman who reported this has a new job yet? I understood she has hired protection. Not sure if it is true or not...........
Kim L. October 02, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I think the Humane Society needs to step in and take over running the zoo until an appropriate owner can be found. They need to take control away from the owner and not allow him to continue to allow the neglect and mistreatment of the animals. She should have been sentenced to at least a year and never be allowed to even own an animal. I am disappointed in the Humane Society for not stepping up and getting involved/taking over the care of these creatures.
fm October 02, 2012 at 01:56 PM
This was the fault of the OWNER, not the director who was acting according to her father/the owners advice. The owner should have been sentenced. I have been to the zoo and have found it clean and the animals appeared to be healthy.
fm October 02, 2012 at 02:01 PM
You are not correct, I know the owner and while she is married her legal last name is Mogensen, Please don't provide false information without knowing her or her motives.
Lisa Westcott October 02, 2012 at 02:02 PM
I think the Zoo needs to have a Free Week or so to go out for business before they go out of business, if you get my meaning. The current owner and Director of course need to go . They do not own the land , that is leased to them.
Karen Goff October 02, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Bob - Ashley Rood does not have a new job. She told me after the hearing she is looking for something in conservation and does not want to work at another zoo. She has not hired "protection" as far as I know. Protection from what?
Karen Goff October 02, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Kim - I don't think the Humane Society can just take over a private business. That is like saying if your restaurant is flagged for a health code violation then you have to turn it over to a nutrition group. Also, the zoo has a USDA license and is inspected at least yearly. The usually pass without violation, though the inspector testified at the hearing that the zoo was flagged for a few things last winter after the wallaby incident. More info about that here: http://reston.patch.com/articles/usda-reston-zoo-has-violation-history
Robert Pew October 02, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Put the Reston Zoo out of business and you will probably get another housing development there. I hope they can adjust their policies to make them more acceptable to the public. Aim for a win - win situation.
NK October 02, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I decided to stop visiting after visiting their new bird area and watching a lady step on one of the poor little birds. There are signs warning people to be careful when walking, but there was not a single staff member in the aviary to supervise and provide guidance, or even in the vicinity. The lady was wandering around looking for someone to help out with the injured bird. I was disgusted and I vowed at that point not to return to the Reston Zoo. This conviction is just icing on the cake, in my opinion.
Nancy J. Olds October 03, 2012 at 03:06 AM
I hope that this zoo and its affiliate, Safari Park, have new and competent ownership. This tragic story and disgraceful conduct of the Reston Zoo's director, Ms. Mogensen, and her father, the owner of these zoos, has cast a long shadow over these "family friendly" zoos. We have visited both zoos and saw nothing to indicate mistreatment, but I believe that Ashley Rood did witness this heartless and painful killing of an injured wallaby and I am grateful that she had the courage and moral strength to report this shocking act. The owner simply wanted to save the expense of calling the veterinarian to euthanize the injured wallaby. Instead of saving money, the owner and his daughter have permanently damaged their reputations and shown their callous nature. What else have they done behind closed doors? There are worthy organizations out there who should have a shot at running this business.
Connie Hartke October 03, 2012 at 11:35 AM
I posted links to the Patch articles on the Humane Society of the U.S. Facebook Page. Got this response: "we have pass(ed) this on to our VA state director, who you can also reach at virginia@humanesociety.org. Thanks!" Great suggestion above! I doubt they can "take over" but am hoping they can do something to help protect the animals until a good solution is found. I hope a few others will email the VA director to reinforce this.
J P October 03, 2012 at 02:39 PM
If Fairfax County Animal Control can prohibit/ban residents from adopting pets after incidents have been reported, why should this be any different? If anything, there should be more stringent controls in place.
Jerry October 03, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Its funny what people get up in arms about. I worked at the feed store and we all called her the Paris Hilton of agriculture. she was a real sweet little blonde that always helped load her own feed. For someone 100lbs we thought she'd break, but she just laughed. She's an ag girl, farm raised. always spent several thousands on feeds, bowls, vitamins, treats whatever the animals needed. There isn't a cruel bone in her body. I am glad there are still some farms, some animals in the area. Left to ya'll - every farm in the state would be a subdividsion. Stick to your shopping malls.
reston on my laurels October 03, 2012 at 07:33 PM
She's cute and can lift a feed bag, so let's give her a pass? You know what she didn't spend money on- humane vet care. I'd prefer that over a couple of treats that she turns around and sells for more profit so the goats can overeat for the benefit of little Timmy. I'm also an ag girl, farm raised. And I do think protecting farm land is important. However, Reston Zoo isn't a farm. No one here has proposed buildilng over Reston Zoo. The average Restonian would love to see that space kept open and undeveloped.
Connie Hartke October 04, 2012 at 09:22 PM
At noon today the Kojo Namdi show discussed "Roadside Zoos." See http://thekojonnamdishow.org/shows/2012-10-04/regulating-roadside-zoos. Guest speakers included the Deputy Director, Program and Policy, The Humane Society of the United States - and they are well aware of what happened here.
Daniel October 08, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Its a misdemeanor. I doubt anything is over, its the same as a speeding ticket. Edith, no doubt you have received one yourself? Common misdemeanors include, shoplifting, driving under the influence, writing bad checks, domestic assault, driving with a suspended license, reckless driving...etc. Imagine if everyone who had ever done those things couldn't go into law enforcement...there would be no cops left! :)

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