Natural Bridge Zoo legal battle continues as jury trial begins

LEXINGTON, Va. – The trial to determine the fate of the animals seized from Natural Bridge Zoo began on Monday with jury selection.

As we’ve previously reported, about 100 animals were taken from the zoo in December by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and Virginia State Police.

This week, a jury will decide whether or not the animals go home. They’re currently in the care of animal rescues.

A jury of seven people with two alternates was selected on Monday and the opening statements are expected to be given on Tuesday.

A seizure hearing was held in the General District court in January. There a judge decided that the state was justified in seizing a little over half of the animals they took.

Both sides appealed the case, which is why it landed in Circuit Court for a jury trial.

Special prosecutor Michelle Welch was supposed to present evidence on Monday.

At a Valentine’s Day motions hearing the judge ordered a “bill of particulars” or a clear description of why each animal was seized to be given to the defense.

The judge ruled on Monday that the one she provided was not detailed enough.

She has to provide the new one to the defense before Tuesday. She’s expected to call her first witnesses then.

The trial is expected to last all week. We’ll continue to bring you updates on-air and online. Find more coverage here.

About the Author

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.