Zoo Miami, aka Miami-Dade zoological Park and Gardens, have decided that they need to get rid of all the cats that are living outside, around their zoo in order, I suppose, to raise their profile by “cleaning up” the area.
In order to do this the management have decided to apply TNR principles to all the cats whether they are stray, feral or domestic and in addition to relocate the cats. I’m told that most of the cats in the area have already been through the TNR process and are residents of the area (they are genuine feral cats being cared for by TNR advocates I suspect). The zoo is working on this program with the assistance of Miami Dade Shelter who will do the neutering, vaccinations and ear tipping.
The report from examiner.com is that any cat will be trapped and relocated. If that includes domestic cats they will be in trouble with the law as it could be construed as theft and criminal damage (ear tipping a domestic cat would be criminal damage).
Alley Cat Allies, respected cat advocates, make it absolutely clear on their website that relocating a feral cat or a group of cats should be avoided if possible at all costs and be an absolute last resort. The obvious reason is that cats become attached to a place which they consider their home (their “home range”).
To remove them without first considering better alternatives is liable to result in cat deaths and injuries because the cats will wander and return exposing themselves to health risks and hazards.
In addition, Alley Cat Allies sets out, in detail, how to relocate feral cat colonies and it is clear that it requires a lot of thought, care and consideration. There is a clear indication that Zoo Miami have embarked upon their course of action to relocate without giving careful consideration to the matter and without considering it as a last resort.
They have been asked for some detail about how they intend going about relocating the cats but have failed to respond. This surely indicates that they do not like being questioned about their actions and that they are aware that their actions are not in the best interests of animal welfare. One expects the management of a zoo to be concerned about animal welfare although the more cynical of us understand that the first priority of zoo management is not animal welfare but financial profit, sometimes at the expense of animal welfare. This story appears to be a case in point.
I think it’s a public relations disaster for the zoo. However, perhaps only a few local residents are aware of it. The zoo justifies their actions by saying that feral and stray cats on the street around the zoo spread disease and there is a risk of infection from rabies. They have wheeled out the usual scaremongering tactics to justify their behaviour. People who know realise that there have been no known cases of humans getting rabies from cats for the period 2003 to June 2013.
What Zoo Miami decided to do smacks of the sort of thing that the Chinese did before the Olympic Games in their country in Beijing. They cleared the streets of stray cats and dogs and brutally killed them. Of course, Zoo Miami have not decided to kill these cats but their actions may lead to their deaths or injuries unless the relocation process is carried out with considerable care and attention to detail. The zoo has failed to provide confirmation that this is the case.