Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19832
Classification: Drowning
Animal: captive exotic
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Person(s) in animal care
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Friday, Jan 13, 2012

County: Fairfax

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Meghan Mogensen

A Virginia zoo director has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty, months after she allegedly drowned a wounded wallaby in a bucket of water.

Meghan Mogensen, 27, will serve a month-long stint in jail for the charge and will be banned from making any future decisions about the care of animals if she continues to work at a zoo or sanctuary, the Washington Post reported.

The Silver Spring, Md. resident's guilty plea marks the end of a long, tragic ordeal that began at Reston Zoo in Reston, Va. in January 2012.

The animal at the center of the trial, a wallaby named Parmesan, reportedly suffered an eye injury while jumping around his pen at the zoo that month.

Zookeepers initially put a bandage over Parmesan's eye, but the injury continued to worsen, Ashley Rood, a former employee of the facility, testified.

Rood said the zoo's owner and Mogenson's father, Eric Mogenson, decided that the animal should be euthanized, a conclusion that shocked Rood given that Parmesan's injury wasn't terrible severe.

"I didn't think the eye could be salvaged but it could be removed by a vet," Rood said on the stand, the Vienna Patch reported. "I told (Meghan Mogensen) other than that, he appears perfectly fine."

Meghan allegedly told Rood that she'd "take care of it" and sent Rood on an errand.

When Rood returned, Parmesan was missing and a bucket of water sat near his pen. Rood ran to a nearby dumpster and discovered the animal's soaking wet body wrapped in a bag.

"I ripped open the bag and I saw the animal and it solidified it for me," Rood told ABC7 back in September of her decision to call the police.

Meghan allegedly told authorities that she had washed the animal after she had euthanized it with a injection of Beuthanasia-D. It was later revealed, however, that the zoo did not have the necessary permits to administer the drug.

A necropsy also found that the animal's injuries were consistent with drowning.

Meghan was found guilty of both animal cruelty and possession of an animal euthanasia drug without a license in a district court in September.

She appealed the decision and struck a deal with prosecutors, thereby dropping the euthanasia charge. She entered her guilty plea last week.


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