From Staff Reports, Bonnie Chapman, Ismael Barrios, Senior Reporters
LEXINGTON, Va. – In a significant move, Virginia State Police, alongside the Attorney General’s Office, are currently conducting an investigative search warrant at the Natural Bridge Zoo. The scene outside the zoo is marked by the presence of at least a half dozen law enforcement officers, with more activity reported behind the zoo walls.
Our senior reporters, Bonnie Chapman and Ismael Barrios, are live at the scene, tracking this developing story.
Debbie Mogensen, co-owner of the zoo, has claimed that the raid is being conducted unfairly. She asserts that the ongoing police action has prevented the zoo staff from providing necessary care, including medical attention and food, to the animals. We are currently awaiting a response from the police regarding these allegations.
The legal representation for the Mogensens has stated that they will have a 10-day period to prepare for a court seizure hearing.
The Attorney General’s Office, while confirming their involvement, has not commented on specific details due to the ongoing nature of the criminal investigation. A statement from the office emphasized their role in supporting and prosecuting animal cruelty cases upon request from local law enforcement or the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
In a related development, PETA has issued a statement thanking the Office of the Attorney General for executing the search warrant at the zoo. PETA highlighted the plight of Asha, a 40-year-old solitary elephant, who has been a focal point of public concern and repeated complaints by the organization. Asha has been kept alone, reportedly on barren ground and chained at night, since 2005. PETA's statement also mentioned the use of a bullhook by Asha's handler, a tool that has raised significant animal welfare concerns.
Rockbridge County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jared Moon, when contacted, stated that he could not comment on the pending investigation.
While additional details are limited at this time, our team at the scene is working diligently to gather more information and provide updates on this developing situation.
Stay tuned as we continue to follow this breaking story, with a focus on the unfolding events at the Natural Bridge Zoo and the wellbeing of the animals involved. Breaking Through News will have live updates throughout the day and a full story about today's events once they conclude.