N.C.’s New River Zoo Can Reopen after Biting Incidents

June 22, 2007

The New River Zoo, which had two animal biting incidents in the past year, can reopen after the owner doubles his insurance and seeks accreditation, North Carolina officials said.

The Ashe County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to allow the zoo to reopen once Keith Stroud Jr. increases his insurance to $2 million and is accredited by the Zoological Association of America. The zoo must also pass inspections by county animal control officials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Stroud said the zoo could likely meet the accreditation standards within six months.

The zoo in Fleetwood was shut down May 31 after a coatimundi escaped and bit a 5-year-old boy. The animal – a small member of the raccoon family with a long ringed tail – had escaped by tunneling under the outer edge of its enclosure. It was euthanized and tested negative for rabies. Stroud had said it was the first time an animal has escaped in the 10 years he has had animals there.

The zoo was also shut down in October when a leopard bit a woman on the arm when she tried to pet the animal. The woman suffered severe cuts and needed surgery. The zoo reopened in March.

The zoo opened to the public in 2001 and is home to more than 60 species.

Information from: Winston-Salem Journal,

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