Stray Cats Causing Problems for Zoo Miami

Zoo Miami has a problem with some animals, but it's not the animals at their exhibits.

Officials said stray cats from the outside are finding their way into the zoo and are likely spreading a sickness.

"We lost a couple of animals. Several have been lost to Toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is something that is generated in cat feces," explained Ron Magill, zoo spokesperson.

Magill said the stray cats sneak in at night, "We've seen them in holding areas. In exhibits using the sand in holding areas as litter boxes."

Instead of having a small pack of squirrel monkeys, Zoo Miami is down to just two, because of Toxoplasmosis.

"We've lost a red kangaroo. We've lost three squirrel monkeys. I cannot guarantee that these animals got Toxoplasmosis from the cats but the fact that it is transmitted in cat feces, it's our obligation to remove all the risk that we have from the park," Magill said.

NBC 6 was told the cats come from the Larry and Penny Thompson Park that surrounds Zoo Miami. They've begun a program to trap the cats there and have them removed.

"We love cats but we have an obligation to the species we have in our collection," Magill said.

The problem is several cat activist groups say that's wrong, the cats should stay in the park. A group called Cat Network posted this on their website: "The single most effective method of protecting the zoo's animal population would be to create barriers to entrances for all other land species."

One woman even sent Magill an email stating: "This zoo should have never been built near our homes in the first place. So you and the zoo are the ones invading and should be trapped and euthanized."

With 740 acres of land to secure, Magill said stopping every single stray cat of an estimated 200 would be impossible. He added it's illegal for cats to be in any area of the park around the zoo in the first place.

"This is Pine Rockland, the most endangered natural habitat in South Florida. There are endangered species that live in here. It's against the law for free roaming cats to be in this property," Magill explained.

So far, there are 19 cats that have been trapped and until they've found new homes, Magill said they won't trap again until then.

"We've had nine cats that went to rescue groups, four cats in PetSmart right now up for adoption. We've had some already adopted," he said.

Magill added the cats that are trapped out of Pine Rockland are being rescued or put up for adoption. The only ones that are being euthanized are those who are found sick.

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