“The zoo in Reston, VA, is under new ownership, and everything is changing,” according to the new owner’s website.
Nova Wild will take over what was previously Roer’s Zoofari. The new owner is Tara Campbell Lussier, a realtor and entrepreneur who grew up in Reston. The facility will reopen fully with a petting zoo, a walking trail, and gift shop on March 11 and visitors will be able to see cheetahs, kangaroos, wallabies, bison, and more. Prior to the grand opening, a 12-acre drive-through safari will open for visitors starting February 11. There will also be a light show experience that will display 10 animal habitats from February 17 through April 9.
This change comes after the last two sets of owners faced concerns around inhumane treatment of animals at the facility. After a fire broke out in a barn in 2021 and killed two giraffes, a petition circulated to shut down the zoo, which at that time was owned by Vanessa and Jacob Roer. Prior to that, a former director of the zoo pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was sentenced to one month in jail in 2013 after a former employee accused her of drowning a wallaby.
Nova Wild says it has filed paperwork with the IRS to be a nonprofit, and that it has upgraded the facilities to include enrichment opportunities where animals can engage with staff and challenge their senses, and hired an animal welfare expert and multiple veterinarians to look after the wellbeing of the animals.