Two Natural Bridge Roadside Zoos Subjects of Complaints Over Neglected Animals

PETA Asks USDA to Investigate Suffering at Both Natural Bridge Zoo and Virginia Safari Park

For Immediate Release:
July 21, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Natural Bridge, Va. – This morning, PETA filed complaints urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate two notorious roadside zoos—Natural Bridge Zoo, owned by Karl Mogensen, and Virginia Safari Park, owned by his son Eric Mogensen. Both facilities, each located in Natural Bridge, have long histories of USDA citations and animal abuse. At Natural Bridge Zoo, visitors documented capuchin monkeys languishing with hair loss and skin issues, while zebras, kudus and many other animals were confined to filthy enclosures. Visitors also spotted giraffes and a llama with overgrown hooves and a mandrill ingesting a toy ball. Conditions at Virginia Safari Park are no better, where a goat was left to languish with painful, curling hooves and an armadillo was spotted racing back and forth along the wall of his tiny cage in apparent distress.

“The routine neglect and cruelty at Natural Bridge Zoo and Virginia Safari Park have PETA calling on families to avoid facilities that subject animals to the misery of confinement,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “Animals at these facilities are suffering, and the authorities should act now to end this apparent negligence and cruelty.”

The USDA has suspended the Natural Bridge Zoo’s federal license twice in the past, and has ordered it to pay more than $22,000 in penalties over the years. It is currently investigating the Natural Bridge Zoo for a multitude of animal-welfare violations, many of which were documented and reported by PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment.” The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries suspended the facility’s state permit for several months earlier this year after officials found extensive, ongoing animal-welfare violations. The USDA hit the Virginia Safari Park with a formal complaint in May 2015 which alleges that animals at Eric Mogensen’s facilities died of frostbite and were denied veterinary care for diseases and injuries.

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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