Fairfax County Police have charged a Silver Spring, Md., woman with animal cruelty after a five-month investigation into the death of a wallaby at the Reston Zoo.
Meghan Mogensen, 26, the zoo’s director, was charged Friday by county police, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
On Jan. 26, after receiving a tip, police opened an investigation relating to allegations of improper treatment of injured animals and improper use of euthanasia drugs.
“This was a complex five-month-long investigation that included both state and federal agencies,” said Fairfax County police spokesperson Lucy Caldwell.
According to a Feb. 16 warrant filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court, an unnamed zoo employee told police a sick wallaby was found dead in a trash receptacle after having earlier been placed into a crate. Wallabies are part of the kangaroo family.
According to the affidavit, the male employee said he later saw the crate empty. He subsequently found the wallaby in a nearby trash container. The employee said he feared the wallaby had been illegally drowned.
According to the search warrant, Mogensen said she euthanized the wallaby with an injection of a drug called Beauthansia, but police said no injection mark could be found on the wallaby.
Police also said in the search warrant the zoo, 1228 Hunter Mill Road, is not legally authorized to euthanize animals.
In their search of the zoo, police also found amounts of the prescription tranquilizer Ketamine, a controlled substance also known as the street drug “Special K.”
Police said the zoo did not have a permit to possess the drug.
Zoo officials declined to comment. No attorney information for Mogensen has yet been made available.