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David Ebert ∙ Co-Founder

david@animaldefensepartnership.org
_____________________________

January 27, 2019

By Email

Charles Broaddus, D.V.M., Ph.D. (charles.broaddus@vdacs.virginia.gov)


Office of The State Veterinarian
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Dr. Katheryn MacDonald, D.V.M. (animalcare@vdacs.virginia.gov


Office of The State Veterinarian
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Re: Request for Inspection of Natural Bridge Zoo for Federal Animal Welfare Act Violations (License
No. 52-C-0035) and Violations of VA Code (VDGIF Permit No. 062357)

To Drs. Broaddus and MacDonald:

I am a member of the Animal Defense Partnership, which provides pro bono legal services to
animal charities and advocates. I am writing on behalf of Virginia residents, Anna Katogiritis BSc,
DVM, Kimberly Reid Hogan and Dr. Antoinette Dyer, as well as my client, Save Nosey Now, Inc.,
to request that the Office of Animal Care and Emergency Response and/or The State Veterinarian
immediately inspect the care and handling of Asha, an elephant exhibited by Karl Mogensen, DBA
"Natural Bridge Zoological Park" ("Natural Bridge Zoo") for violations of the Animal Welfare Act
(AWA) and The Virginia Code. The current climatic conditions of western Virginia, including
snow, ice, and freezing temperatures, present a threat to Asha's health and well-being.
Please promptly inspect Natural Bridge Zoo to ensure that it is taking appropriate measures to

The Animal Defense Partnership, Inc.


3 West Main Street – Suite 201 – e, Irvington, New York 10533
A 501(c)(3) Not-For-Profit Corporation
IRS EIN:3109559
NYS Reg. No. 45-57-36
alleviate the impact of frigid temperatures on Asha and that she is being handled "in a manner that
does not cause trauma … excessive cooling, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary
discomfort." 9 C.F.R. § 2.131 (e), (b)(1).

For a complete history of Natural Bridge Zoo’s animal welfare violations, please see the attached
complaint and accompanying exhibits (including a report from Dr. Toni Frohoff, elephant
biologist). filed on March 28, 2018 with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. To date, no
response or acknowledgment of this complaint has been provided. Rockbridge County Animal
Control is well aware of the egregious history of The Natural Bridge Zoo and is being copied on this
correspondence.

According to USDA records Dr. Denise Sofranko, former USDA Field Specialist for elephants,
visited Natural Bridge Zoo on December 20, 2005, and found the care and housing of the elephant
Asha to be inadequate. Specifically, she found that during the winter, Asha is chained indoors for "a
great deal of time … on a concrete floor in a very damp barn" and recommended that the facility
provide a softer substrate to avoid foot problems. Despite the passage of almost 14 years, Natural
Bridge Zoo apparently continues to house Asha in the same cold, damp barn.

Additionally, The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is


responsible for the Commonwealth’s animal control, care and welfare mandates, as well as animal
disease control, prevention and diagnostics. Housing Asha in this manner is a violation of § 3.2-
6502. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title3.2/chapter65/section3.2-6500/, which provides, in
relevant part, that "Adequate shelter" means provision of and access to shelter that is suitable for the
species, age, condition, size, and type of each animal; provides adequate space for each animal; is
safe and protects each animal from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, direct sunlight, the adverse effects
of heat or cold, physical suffering, and impairment of health;…”

Moreover, § 3.2-6502. gives The State Veterinarian power to conduct inspections of public
and private animal shelters, and inspect any business premises where animals are housed or
kept, including any boarding establishment, kennel, pet shop, or the business premises of any dealer,
exhibitor or groomer, at any reasonable time, for the purposes of determining if a violation of:
(i) this chapter; (ii) any other state law governing the care, control or protection of animals;
or (iii) any other state law governing property rights in animals has occurred. Provisions for
investigation of suspected violations of this chapter and other laws pertaining to animals are
provided in § 3.2-6564. Provisions for obtaining a warrant and the power of search for violations of
animal cruelty laws are provided in § 3.2-6568.

The Animal Defense Partnership, Inc.


3 West Main Street – Suite 201 – e, Irvington, New York 10533
A 501(c)(3) Not-For-Profit Corporation
IRS EIN:3109559
NYS Reg. No. 45-57-36
Since Natural Bridge Zoo is not currently open to the public and will not be for several months, this
situation rises to an emergency level. Please hold the facility accountable for any and all violations of
the AWA and the Virginia Code.

Please also ensure that the giraffes at Natural Bridge Zoo have access to a heated barn in accordance
with the USDA’s guidelines on proper cold weather care of giraffes, which are set forth on the
Appendix, Section A(2).

Finally, please inform me of the status of this complaint via email correspondence.

Very truly yours,

The Animal Defense Partnership, Inc.

By: s/David Ebert


cc: Deputy Eric Higgins
Rockbridge County Animal Control
258 Greenhouse Rd.
Lexington, VA 24450

Tom Wilcox (Tom.Wilcox@dgilvirginia.gov)


Jim Husband (Jim.Husband@dgif.virginia.gov)
Michelle Welch (mwelch@oag.state.va.us)
Mathew Hull (MHull@oag.state.va.us)
Denise Gaug, J.D. Save Nosey Now, Inc. (deegaug@live.com)
Antoinette Dyer, Ph.D. (tonadyer.25@gmail.com)
Ms. Kimberly Reid Hogan (kimreidhogan.555@gmail.com)
Anna Katogiritis, BSc, DVM (anaritis@vt.edu)
Wildlife Resources Bureau (dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov)

The Animal Defense Partnership, Inc.


3 West Main Street – Suite 201 – e, Irvington, New York 10533
A 501(c)(3) Not-For-Profit Corporation
IRS EIN:3109559
NYS Reg. No. 45-57-36