Reston Zoo director charged with animal cruelty in wallaby death

Meghan Mogensen. Photo: Fairfax County Police

The director of the Reston Zoo has been arrested and charged with animal cruelty related to the death of a wallaby, police say.

Following a five-month investigation, Animal Control Officers arrested Meghan Mogensen, 26, of Silver Spring on Friday.

Mogensen was charged with animal cruelty and possession of a controlled substance after alleged improper treatment of a sick wallaby.

The five month investigation began in January when a zoo employee discovered an injured wallaby and brought it to Mogenson's attention, telling her the animal should be seen by a vet, records show. Court documents indicate Mogenson was seen carrying the crated wallaby into a barn. The empty crate was later found next to a water spigot and a five gallon bucket of water.

Investigators say the employee later found the wallaby dead in a trash bag at the bottom of a dumpster, and its body was "profusely wet".

After Animal Control Officers followed up on the complaint of suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the adult wallaby, officers opened an investigation relating to allegations of improper treatment of injured animals and improper use of euthanasia drugs.

Two zoo employees told animal control officers Mogenson allegedly has a history of drowning animals.

Evidence was gathered on February 16 when a search warrant was executed, police say.

When investigators questioned Mogenson, she claimed she euthanized the wallaby by lethal injection. But, investigators say no injection site was found on the animal's body, and the zoo did not have a proper DEA permit to use such drugs nor did it have a certificate to preform euthanasia.

Patrons of the zoo said the location is a favorite among local families and schools.

Fairfax County police say Mogenson was released on her on recognizance.

In the ongoing investigation, the USDA, VDACS and other entities are working with the Fairfax County Police to ensure proper protocols in humane animal euthanasia and treatment.