PETA Calls for State Investigation of Natural Bridge Zoo

Failure to List Foxes and Exotic Cats, False Claim on Permit-Renewal Application Grounds for Revocation

For Immediate Release:
April 28, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Natural Bridge, Va. – Last year, the notorious Natural Bridge Zoo acquired two Siberian lynxes and a Geoffroy’s cat. The unaccredited roadside menagerie also possesses two fennec foxes, although facility owner Karl Mogensen lacks the required state permit to hold and exhibit these animals. That’s why PETA sent an urgent letter this morning to Col. Ron Henry, chief of law enforcement of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), asking that the agency immediately launch an investigation into Natural Bridge and revoke Mogensen’s permit to exhibit other wild animals in Virginia if wrongdoing is found.

“This operation is not above the law,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “Mogensen’s history of run-ins with licensing agencies shows that the cats, foxes, and other animals at this despicable roadside zoo are also suffering from a lack of basic care.”

This isn’t the first time that Mogensen has run afoul of both state and federal law. In 2007, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suspended his license and he was ordered to pay a $10,000 penalty for Animal Welfare Act violations, and in 2013—following a PETA complaint—the USDA cited Mogensen for failure to provide bears with clean drinking water and cited him twice for failing to trim the overgrown hooves of a giraffe. PETA also found donkeys and a zebu with overgrown, neglected hooves—a condition that can lead to serious ailments. This year, Mogensen has been cited for a filthy and deteriorating floor that was unable to be sanitized. Records show that in a 2007 permit-renewal application, he misrepresented to the DGIF that he donated the body of an African elephant to the Smithsonian Institution, which confirmed to PETA that it received no such donation.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind