USDA Cites Virginia Private Zoo for Chimpanzees' Escape

Six escaped when gate left open

Monday, May 21, 2012  |  Updated 3:55 PM EDT
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited a private zoo in Mechanicsville, Va., for violating a federal regulation almost two years after six chimpanzees escaped.

The agency cited Windy Oaks Animal Farm for failing to demonstrate adequate experience and knowledge of the species it maintains. In last month's warning notice, the department said any further violation could result in a civil penalty or criminal prosecution.

Windy Oaks owner Curtis Shepperson acknowledged Monday that he received the notice and said he's done everything he's supposed to do. He declined to elaborate.

According to a report by Hanover County Animal Control, the chimpanzees escaped when a painter left a gate open. The owners recaptured four of the primates.

The USDA notice mentioned only the two that were still loose when animal control arrived.

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