COURT DOCUMENTS: Findings of Natural Bridge Zoo raid

NATURAL BRIDGE, Va.Coming up on 10 News at 11, we’ll share more about what officials took away from the zoo. Tune in here.

10 News was able to obtain court documents Friday about the search at the Natural Bridge Zoo.

According to affidavits and search warrants, the Natural Bridge Zoo search was sparked by two undercover informants.

One of the informants was an employee at the zoo, and the other had been an animal control officer for eight years in the Commonwealth.

The undercover employee documented daily tasks, observations, and conversations with other employees and management.

The affidavit notes a conversation between the employee and the elephant handler.

The employee reported that he was told to use a bullhook where “Bone is close to flesh. Make it count.”

The affidavit also mentions two visits a police sergeant and the undercover employee made to the zoo.

On the first one in October, it was alleged that several animals were in environments that weren’t clean and had some functions not working.

Officials said the most alarming was a dead goat was discovered but remained unnoticed by employees for more than an hour.

The sergeant went back for another visit in November and said they found many of the issues weren’t addressed.

In closing the affidavit read:

“Based on our first-hand investigation, as well as the statements, observations, photographs, and video documented above, we believe there to be a direct and immediate threat to the health and safety of the animals belonging to and residing at Natural Bridge Zoo.”

Authorities started their search of the property on Wednesday and it concluded last night.

You can read the entire search warrant below.

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About the Author:

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.