A zoo zoo keeper was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison for shooting and killing a wild bison that he said was “pandering.”
The trial of Charles T. Wootton Jr., 43, began Thursday as he was sentenced to four consecutive years in federal prison for killing a 20-pound wild boarbond in Tennessee in 2010.
The judge, U.S. District Judge Stephen Hargan, told Wooton he had made a “terrible mistake” in shooting the animal, but that the sentencing judge “did not have the opportunity to hear what you have to say.”
“You shot an animal that you knew was an aggressive animal,” Hargac said in the sentencing.
“You did not have a good understanding of what the wild animal was, nor did you have the proper training.”
Hargan said he had not seen video of the incident, but the judge said he saw Wootson’s testimony in court and could see the animal was a “bully.”
Hearing testimony from Wootons attorney, David Noland, who said the wild buntine was the one that attacked him, the judge told the defendant that the animal that Woottons gun had been used on was not the one the prosecution accused him of killing.
Wootons defense attorney, Kevin D. Gorman, said Wootts actions were justified because he had been in a position to shoot the animal in the past, but not when he was a keeper.
Woots attorneys said Wontons wife was there at the time of the shooting.
Prosecutors asked for five years in jail for the shooting, but Judge Hargans reduced that to one year.
The jury recommended a two-year sentence for Woot’s wife, who was not there at that time.
Wott was a volunteer zoo keeper at the Chattanooga Zoo from 2001 to 2008.
The zoo had no zoo animals until 2016, when the zoo was bought by the zoo management company that runs the zoo, American Zoo & Aquarium.