WINCHESTER — The owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park and his nephew have been charged with 46 and 45 counts of animal cruelty, respectively, over their treatment of agricultural and exotic animals at the Frederick County business.
The animal park, at 985 W. Parkins Mill Road off Millwood Pike (U.S. 50), closed on Aug. 15 after authorities seized 119 animals, citing a lack of food and water and squalid conditions.
Keith Arnold Wilson, 56, of the 900 block of West Parkins Mill Road, and Christian Alejandro Dall’Acqua, age and address unavailable, were indicted on Thursday by a county grand jury.
Bears, lynxes, lions, monkeys and tigers are among the animals Wilson and Dall’Acqua are accused of neglecting.
The seizure of the animals, which included a dead cat and dead lemur found in freezers in the park’s gift shop, was prompted by a visit from Spotsylvania County Animal Control Officer Richard Samuels, who wrote in a search warrant affidavit that he found animals in 83-degree heat without water and in minimal shade at the park. There was also an insufficient amount of food.
During an Aug. 29 hearing in Frederick County General District Court, exotic animal experts described appalling conditions at the park, which opened in 1976. They testified that two Asian bears were found on a concrete floor filled with feces, but without food. A water tub for the bears was filled with algae and mosquito larvae.
Video shown at the hearing showed two macaw birds found with severely overgrown beaks, making it difficult for them to eat and drink, and an official said the room stunk of ammonia, feces and urine. Officials testified that sheep were left unsheared in the summer and their wool coats were encrusted with feces, which attracts flies and maggots. The lion enclosure had rotting meat filled with maggots.
Reached by phone on Monday, Wilson wouldn’t say if he plans to reopen the park or comment on the conditions of the animals. Due to ongoing litigation, he said, “I’d like to comment, but I really can’t.”
Both Wilson and Dall’Acqua were listed as fugitives on Monday on the Frederick County Circuit Court website.
Wilson said he didn’t know why they are listed as fugitives. Dall’Acqua couldn’t be reached for comment.