Florida zoo owner charged with mistreating animals

Author: Associated Press
Published: Updated:

GULF BREEZE, Fla. (AP) – Federal officials filed a complaint accusing the owners of a Florida zoo of failing to properly care for the animals, including euthanizing them by shooting and drowning them.

The charges by the U.S. Department of Agriculture say the 50-acre Gulf Breeze Zoo wasn’t properly supervised when a child was bitten by a camel. Rabbits weren’t separated so their babies were eaten, injured or had to be euthanized. The tiger enclosure didn’t have proper ventilation and other animal enclosures had rusted fences and exposed nails, according to the complaint.

The charges also allege the zoo, which houses hundreds of animals and recently welcomed a baby giraffe, didn’t use proper veterinary care and relied on expired medications and even shot an animal as a means of euthanasia. An opossum escaped from an improper enclosure and was found dead the next day. Lion and tiger food bins weren’t cleaned and goats and sheep didn’t have adequate shelter from sun and rain, according to the complaint.

Owner Eric Mogensen and his daughter, Meghan, were charged with multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act at the Gulf Breeze facility, as well as two other facilities they own in Virginia – the Reston Zoo and the Virginia Safari Park in Natural Bridge. Complaints involving the Virginia facilities include euthanizing an animal by drowning, and mishandling of a spider monkey that resulted in its death due to hypothermia.

Emails and a phone message left at the zoo were not immediately returned Sunday.

The Humane Society of the United States said Meghan Mogensen pleaded guilty to animal cruelty while working at the Reston Zoo in Virginia, and was barred from making decisions about animal care and euthanasia. The Northwest Florida Daily News (http://tinyurl.com/pyldtqb) reports she later transferred to the Gulf Breeze Zoo.

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