Thursday, March 17, 2005

Vet loses license over bizarre zoo incident

little joe poses for the cameras

A Framingham veterinarian who lied to police at the Franklin Park Zoo that she was there to help deal with an escaped gorilla, then rammed her car through a zoo gate, has surrendered her license to practice, the state Division of Professional Licensure said yesterday.

The vet, Vanessa Iglesias Shoemaker, demanded that Boston Police let her into Franklin Park, claiming she was a consulting veterinarian responding to an emergency involving an escaped gorilla, the board said.

When police would not let her into the zoo, which was closed for the day, she drove her car through a service gate and was arrested for breaking and entering, the board and zoo officials said.

"She does not and did not at the time have any affiliation whatsoever with Zoo New England," which operates Franklin Park Zoo, said Jo-Anne Baxter, the group's director of marketing.

Shoemaker's zoo crashing occurred last August, nearly a year after the much-publicized escape of Little Joe, an 11-year-old runaway gorilla who attacked a 2-year-old girl and an off-duty zoo employee before being recaptured. The toddler received a gash on her right temple and 18-year-old woman received scrapes.

But there was no escaped gorilla the night Shoemaker was arrested, officials said.

"Everything was secure on that evening. There was no emergency," Baxter said. Police arrived on the scene after being called by security guards, she said.

Shoemaker caused a couple of hundred dollars worth of damage to the gate, but did not harm any animals, she said.

Shoemaker does not have a listed phone number and there was no contact information about her in the report.

Shoemaker gave up her veterinary license for at least three years under an agreement with state officials that took effect last week. She can get her license back in 2008 if she demonstrates to the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine that she is mentally competent to practice veterinary medicine.

Story here.

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