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Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 01/03/2013

Reston Zoo director pleads guilty in drowning of wallaby


(Fairfax County Police - FAIRFAX COUNTY POLICE)
A woman who has served as the director of the Reston Zoo pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in connection with the drowning of an injured wallaby as part of a deal with prosecutors, according to the Virginia State Attorney General’s Office.

Meghan Mogensen, 27, of Silver Spring, was sentenced to one month in jail and is barred from making decisions about the care or euthanasia of any animal if she serves as an animal caretaker or manager of a zoo or sanctuary.

Under the terms of the deal, a second charge for possession of an animal euthanasia drug without a license was dropped.

Mogensen was found guilty on both charges in Fairfax County General District Court in September, but she appealed the convictions to the county’s circuit court. She entered her guilty plea there on Friday.

Ashley Rood, a former employee of the zoo, testified at the September trial that the wallaby named Parmesan suffered an eye injury while hopping about its pen in January 2012. Rood said Mogensen’s father, Eric, wanted to euthanize the animal.
An animal pen at he 30-acre Reston Zoo. (Ryan Anson - FREELANCE)

Rood later found the animal’s wet body in a trash bag in a dumpster. She testified she found the animal’s crate next to a spigot and a bucket of water and suspected Meghan Mogensen had drowned the animal.

A necropsy performed on the wallaby found signs consistent with drowning. And prosecutors said Mogensen tried to cover up the drowning by forging a euthanasia report.

Mogensen’s attorney did not return a call for comment, but he said at her September trial that she was acting out of compassion for the wallaby, which had suffered a serious injury and would likely not live. He contended she injected the wallaby with a drug, but did not drown it.

By  |  12:35 PM ET, 01/03/2013

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