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Zoo director arrested, charged with animal cruelty

Fairfax County Police Dept.

Meghan Mogensen, 26, is charged with animal cruelty and possession of a controlled substance.

The director of a private zoo in Reston, Va., was arrested and charged with animal cruelty in connection with the suspicious death of a wallaby, according to Reston police.

Reston Zoo Director Meghan Mogensen, 26, of Silver Spring, Md. was also charged with possession of a controlled substance, police said.

Both charges are class-one misdemeanors, and Mogensen is not currently in detention, according to Eddy Azcarate, a public information officer for the Reston Police District of Fairfax County Police.

The arrest came Friday after what police described as "a complex five-month-long investigation" looked into allegations of improper treatment of injured animals and improper use of euthanasia."

 A search warrant filed Feb. 16 in Fairfax County Circuit Court cited an unnamed zoo worker who said he feared the animal had been illegally drowned. The last he had seen the adult wallaby, a species in the same family as the kangaroo, he had placed it in a crate because it was sick and needed veterinary care, according to the warrant, obtained by NBC Washington.

The male employee said he later saw the crate empty and found the wallaby's wet carcass in a nearby trash container, the report said, citing the court document.

WRCs' Jane Watrel describes the investigation that led to the arrest of Reston Zoo director Meghan Mogensen.

Mogensen claimed that she had humanely euthanized the wallaby with an injection of Beuthanasia-D, NBC reported. However, the investigation revealed that the zoo did not have the necessary permits or the training to dispense the drug.

According to its web page, Reston Zoo is a "30-acre, family-friendly zoo and home to a wide variety of exotic animals." The zoo advertises a petting barn and "zoofari wagon rides" around the park. It lists domestic farm animals such as horses, goats and lambs, as well as more exotic creatures such as wildebeest, monkeys, zebras, alligators and a clouded leopard. The site does not list wallabies among its animal exhibits. 

According to Patch.com, the zoo is owned by Eric Mogensen, Meghan’s father, who currently owns two other zoos.

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