RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The owner of a Virginia roadside zoo and his nephew pleaded no contest Friday to multiple counts of animal cruelty and received suspended sentences, state Attorney General Jason Miyares announced.
Keith Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Winchester, entered no contest pleas to 27 misdemeanor counts in Frederick County Circuit Court. Wilson’s nephew, Christian Dall’Acqua, pleaded no contest to 19 misdemeanor counts.
In 2019, 119 exotic and agricultural animals were seized from the zoo, including lions, tigers, bears, camels and water buffalo after a judge found Wilson “cruelly treated, neglected or deprived” the animals of adequate care.
Under a plea agreement, Wilson and his nephew were sentenced to 12 -month suspended sentences on each count, with a series of conditions. They cannot work, own, buy or sell any exotic animals for five years.
Wilson cannot have any more than 125 agricultural animals and is required to practice good animal husbandry. He also agreed to allow unannounced inspections by law enforcement, investigators and a licensed Virginia veterinarian for a period of five years.
If Wilson or Dall’Acqua violate any of the conditions of their agreement, they could serve 27 or 19 years in prison, respectively.