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Zoo Director Pleads Guilty in Wallaby Death

Reston Zoo director Meghan Mogensen, accused of drowning a wallaby, avoids second trial by entering guilty plea in Fairfax County General District Court.

Meghan Mogensen, the Reston Zoo director who in September was found guilty in Fairfax County General District Court of animal cruelty and drug possession, has pleaded guilty to the charges, the Virginia State Attorney General's Office says.

Mogensen, 27, was supposed to begin the appeal of her 30-day sentence Feb. 13 in county Circuit Court.

Instead, as part of a deal with prosecutors, she pleaded guilty on Friday to the the animal cruelty charges, the Washington Post reports. In the deal, the charge for possession of an animal euthanasia drug without a license was dropped.

Mogensen's 30-day sentence has been upheld and she is barred from making decisions about the care or euthanasia of animals if she serves as an animal caretaker or manager of a zoo.

Mogensen's father, Eric, is the owner of the Reston Zoo, located on Hunter Mill Road. Mogensen returned to work within days of her arrest in June.

The charges stem from an incident in January 2012, in which Parmesan, an injured adult wallaby, was euthanized. Mogensen maintains she humanely put the animal down with a lethal injection.

But one of the zoo's employees told a different story, calling authorities after she said Mogensen drowned the animal in a bucket and threw his body in a dumpster.

After September's one-day bench trial in which nearly two dozen veterinary and forensic experts were called to testify, Judge Ian O'Flaherty sentenced Mogensen to the $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail on the animal cruelty charge and a $250 fine and suspension of her driver's license for six months on the drug count. Both of the charges are misdemeanors.

Neither Mogensen nor her attorney, Caleb Kershner, could be reached for comment.

To read all stories related to this case, click here.

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