I grew up just a few miles from Virginia’s Natural Bridge Zoo and always assumed it was a well-run sanctuary, a place where healthy animals from around the world delighted visitors. New undercover video and a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection paint a very different picture. They detail:
- A capuchin monkey killed by carelessly placed rat bait
- Guinea pigs being “euthanized” by slamming them against concrete
- A baby monkey and its mother being jabbed with a metal rod and, once captured, slammed to the ground
- A camel who died with her neck wedged in a gap that management knew was unsafe
- A macaque who went weeks without treatment for a wound that ran clear to his bone
- An elephant, one of the most social species on earth, kept in solitary—not seeing another of her kind—for nearly a decade
That’s just the start. The twenty-seven-page USDA report goes on to describe unimaginable filth and dead animals everywhere. It even recounts visitors handling thirty-five pound tiger cubs—animals mature enough to hurt people—while zoo staff took pictures.
What does the zoo’s owner Karl Mogensen have to say about all this?
He completely dismisses powerful photos and videos captured by The Humane Society, telling The Roanoke Times, “You can always take a bad picture.”
Luckily, these images say it all. Natural Bridge Zoo is a nightmare for the creatures trapped in it and a hazard for the people who visit. It’s time for authorities to shut it down.
That’s why I’ve started a petition. Sign today and tell the USDA along with Virginia’s governor and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries that they must take action. It’s time for all zoos to be places of joy, conservation, and learning, not places of misery.