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Natural Bridge Zoo jury trial set for Feb. 1


The Lexington-Rockbridge General District Court made a ruling Thursday on the unresolved opinions and appeals in the Natural Bridge Zoo case.

The court awarded the county costs of care and boarding in the amount of $45,563.46. The county was also granted the right to make unannounced inspections of Natural Bridge Zoo for a period of six months.

In regard to the four giraffes, the court ruled the following:

  • The giraffes shall remain at the Natural Bridge Zoo
  • The county shall be permitted to make unannounced inspections of the giraffes to ensure their health and safety
  • Those authorized to make the inspections on behalf of the county include VSP Special Agent Gabriel Spencer or his designee; Amy Phelps and the giraffe vet whom she chooses to accompany her; Amy Taylor

The court also ruled that the Natural Bridge Zoo’s request for a stay was denied. The appeal bond is set at $55,000, which represents an estimate of boarding costs for two months at $27,700 per month.

A jury trial is set for Feb. 1 in circuit court; however, it is dependent upon whether the Mogensens pay the bond based on the order that came out.

Mario Williams, the zoo’s attorney, has withdrawn from the case and is no longer on it.

We will continue to update this article as we learn more. You can read the court’s ruling below.

Natural Bridge Zoo by WSLS on Scribd


Natural Bridge Zoo’s attorney said he filed for appeal in Rockbridge County court on Monday after a judge ruled that many of the animals taken from the zoo by the state during a search were justified.

Virginia State Police, along with the Attorney General’s office, executed the search and seizure at the zoo on Dec. 6 and 7, and almost 100 animals were taken.

A judge concluded on Friday that many of the seized animals had been “subject to cruelty or inadequate care within the meaning of section 3.2-6569 of the Code of Virginia.” However, he ordered just under 40 animals to be returned to the zoo’s owners.

The attorney general’s office tells us that the animals the judge deemed justly confiscated will remain with their animal partners.

Some of those include animal sanctuaries. Local animal organization Angels of Assisi was spotted on-site during the search.

They said on Monday they could not yet comment on the case due to legal reasons.

Source: WSLS News 10

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