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Zoo Researcher Found Guilty Of Poisoning Cats

Zoo Researcher Found Guilty Of Poisoning Cats

Nico Dauphine, the National Zoo bird researcher who was arrested for sprinkling rat poison in the food bowls of a feral cat colony in her Washington D.C. neighborhood was found guilty of animal cruelty.

Dauphine, a Ph.D. who specializes in the conservation of migratory birds for the National Zoo was charged earlier this year after caretakers of a feral cat colony found an unusual material in the cats’ food bowls. When the substance turned out to be rat poison, the Washington Humane Society placed video cameras in the area to catch the culprit.

The footage caught Dr. Dauphine stopping outside her apartment building, opening a plastic bag and pouring the contents into the food bowls of the feral cats.

Dauphine denied the charges last week in court, but was handed a guilty verdict by D.C. Superior Court Judge Truman Morrison after he viewed the damaging tapes. The researcher faces up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine when she is sentenced on November 21.

“Our Humane Law Enforcement Department works hard to bring justice to abused animals in our city, and we can say with confidence that justice was served today,” said Lisa LaFontaine, president and CEO of the Washington Humane Society.

Dauphine’s lawyer argued that although video cameras taped his client standing over a bowl of cat food, she was merely removing the food to keep the cats from congregating by her building.

Dr. Dauphine has a long history of being critical of feral cats. In 2009 she delivered an online lecture entitled, “Apocalypse Meow,” which discussed how feral cats kill billions of animals in the U.S. each year. And in 2007 she sent a rebuttal to the New York Times after they published a story condemning a person that killed a cat after it hunted an endangered bird.

Dauphine’s current project with the National Zoo involves strapping small cameras to the backs of outdoor housecats to see how they “affect wild bird populations.”

Alley Cat Allies president, Becky Robinson is satisfied with the verdict, but would like to see the Smithsonian take action.

We call on the Smithsonian to immediately dismiss Ms. Dauphine from her position and cancel any research projects in which she was involved,” said Robinson. “Her conviction for attempting to kill cats, along with her history of condemning cats in research, leaves her work suspect of major bias. Her work should be discredited and disregarded by the scientific community.”


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Photo from Michael-broad via flickr.

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9:31AM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

Fire her! Why would anyone want someone so cruel and sadistic. She should not be allowed within 100 ft of any animal. Who knows of what she is capable. Who knows how many more animals she has killed.

9:37PM PDT on Jun 7, 2012

She should be fired.

7:28PM PDT on May 1, 2012

Maybe there's something I don't understand about this - why hasn't she been fired? What's wrong with the Smithsonian? Why is she still working with cats? She obviously hates them. She is a convicted criminal and should be treated as such!

6:51AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Just because this woman has a PhD, and obviously well educated, it just does not speak to her mental health or her philosophy, which has been expressed by poisoning/killing cats. Unfortunately, there are too many like her in the federal govt. Get rid of this disturbed individual, she should not be allowed to be on the government payroll. And I highly object to her not being fired as yet.

7:26PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

Despicable and I think she should be fired because she is UNTRUSTWORTHY.

7:10PM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

Get rid of her. We don't need people who do what she did in any position of authority. Her college degree doesn't give her the right to hurt any animals or people for that matter.

12:28PM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

This person should be prosecuted and go to prison for a very very long time. These type of people who intentionally hurt animals are not mentally stable and need therapy.

12:28PM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

This person should be prosecuted and go to prison for a very very long time. These type of people who intentionally hurt animals are not mentally stable and need therapy.

11:46AM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

I signed the petition, I hope she is fired & prosecuted,

10:43AM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

AN obvious cat hater. I hope she does have to do the time and pay the fine, I just wonder if it will change her behavior. She needs an education on what is killing wildlife: humans are on a larger scale than any natural predator could ever do.

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