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Va. zoo director found guilty of animal cruelty after killing a wallaby

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RESTON, Va. (WTVR)–The director of the Reston Zoo in Northern Virginia was found guilty of animal cruelty for drowning a wallaby last winter.

The woman is now facing jail time and ordered to pay a fine. She was also found guilty of possession of a controlled substance that she did not have permits to possess.

Mogensen was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $1,000 for the cruelty charge, which is a misdemeanor. On the drug charge, the judge fined her $250 and suspended her driver’s license for six-months.

The news came as a big relief for Ashley Rood, who said she felt compelled to come forward and say something when she saw what was happening at the Reston Zoo.

Rood is the one who found a dead wallaby named Parmesan, who was injured.

“I ripped open the bag and I saw him and that solidified it for me,” Rood said. “I knew what had happened.”

Investigators said that the director of the zoo, 26-year-old Meghan Mogensen drowned the animal.

She was found guilty of animal cruelty in a Fairfax County court on Friday.

Mogensen has denied the charges.

Rood, who worked at the zoo for four years, said that speaking out was worth it and she doesn’t regret doing it.

“It was a work environment that I wanted to get out of and I did,” she said.

David Conway remembers going to the zoo as a young boy. “It’s upsetting. I would have assumed someone would have caught on much quicker,” he said.

He and his friend Daquan Page both agree the sentence should have been stiffer. “I assume she had a love for animals so I’m confused as to what went wrong,” Page said.

They hope Mogensen won’t be allowed to be around animals in the future.

Police said Mogensen told them she euthanized the animal by giving it a lethal injection.

But investigators said the zoo did not have the appropriate permits or training to use the euthanasia drug that killed the animal.

Her attorney now plans to appeal the sentence.