More than 100 animals, both alive and dead, were taken from a roadside zoo in western Virginia, according to court documents, as part of what state authorities are calling a criminal investigation.
A search warrant executed Wednesday at the Natural Bridge Zoo in Rockbridge County showed that 89 live animals were seized, and another 28 dead animals were taken, The Roanoke Times reported.
Attorney General Jason Miyares’ staff is conducting the investigation, with assistance from the Virginia State Police. The court order said it was issued in connection with animal cruelty and cruelty.
The prosecutor’s office’s “Animal Law Unit” “provides support and prosecution of animal cruelty cases at the request of a local Commonwealth’s Attorney or law enforcement agency,” Miyares spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita said. said in an email. email on Friday. “As this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we cannot comment further.”
LaCivita confirmed that one of the dead animals taken was a tiger that had to be euthanized with the consent of the owners to end its suffering. Other live animals taken were lemurs, macaws, pythons and llamas, according to a warrant filed Friday in county Circuit Court. Many cages and animal carriers are brought to the zoo.
A phone call to Natural Zoo Bridge went unanswered Saturday, and there was no response to an email seeking comment. The zoo is closed for the winter.
Mario Williams, an attorney for the zoo’s owner, questioned the investigation and told WDBJ television earlier this week that the zoo would try to stop any permanent confiscation of the animals, which he said was unconstitutional. .