Suffering Animals Caught on Camera at Natural Bridge Zoo

Captured: Zebu Struggling to Walk, Unshorn Llamas Miserable in 90-Degree Heat, Other Problems for Animals Used at Roadside Zoo

For Immediate Release:
July 11, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Natural Bridge, Va. – PETA has obtained new photographs and video footage of the notorious Natural Bridge Zoo revealing numerous ongoing animal-welfare violations there, including a zebu and two giraffes with painfully overgrown hooves, several llamas who were left unshorn and suffering in the sweltering heat, and a lonely elephant, Asha, forced to give rides despite cracked and overgrown toenails—a painful condition in captive elephants that makes her prone to serious bacterial infections. Members of the public were also allowed to climb into her enclosure to take a photo with her, an apparent violation of federal law. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has suspended the roadside zoo’s federal license twice in the past and ordered it to pay more than $22,000 in penalties, and Virginia authorities suspended the facility’s permit in 2015 after PETA alerted them to animal-welfare violations.

“This elephant is being denied companionship and even the most basic veterinary care and is being forced to work, and the other animals are clearly in trouble, too,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “The neglect at this facility is disgusting, and PETA asks everyone to avoid the Natural Bridge Zoo.”

PETA (whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”) notes that the USDA recently deemed Gretchen Mogensen—an employee of the facility and daughter of owner Karl Mogensen—unfit for an exhibitor’s license because of her animal-handling practices, a determination that was affirmed in March by an administrative law judge.

Visitors have documented capuchin monkeys with hair loss and skin issues, giraffes with overgrown hooves, a mandrill who ingested a toy ball, and zebras, kudus, and other animals confined to filthy enclosures.

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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