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Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 26, 2011
Contact: ALISON GRASHEIM, or (202) 240-1985; PATRICIA JONES, or (718) 651-7187

Says zoo’s decision to keep Nico Dauphine in her position “profoundly troubling”

BETHESDA, MD — Alley Cat Allies, the national advocate for stray and feral cats, today called on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo to suspend Nico Dauphine, a wildlife researcher accused of attempting to poison cats at a park near her home in Washington, D.C., until the criminal charges against her have been resolved.

In a letter to the zoo’s director, Dennis Kelly, Alley Cat Allies president Becky Robinson says the zoo’s decision to keep Dauphine in her position despite the serious allegations of animal cruelty against her “sends a message to the Washington, D.C. community and all of America that the lives of cats have no value.”

“Keeping her on staff during this time would be a violation of the public’s trust in the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution,” Robinson wrote.

In the letter, Robinson points out that Trap-Neuter-Return, a humane program for feral cats that ends the breeding cycle and stabilizes the population, enjoys widespread support from city officials and residents in Washington, D.C. The park where Dauphine’s alleged poisoning attempt occurred is home to many feral cats who are cared for by local residents.

“Intentionally poisoning and killing a cat by any means is a felony crime in virtually all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Attempting to perpetrate this cruelty with rat poison and anti-freeze—as Dr. Dauphine is charged—is even more stunning in its brutality. Poisoning is a slow and painful death,” Robinson wrote.

Robinson also notes that according to national media reports, Dauphine’s current research project involves “mounting small cameras on domestic cats that roam outdoors to see how they affect wild bird populations.”

“Given the nature of the charges pending against her, we request confirmation of whether or not Dr. Dauphine is actively engaged in domestic cat research,” Robinson wrote.

Alley Cat Allies also asked supporters to sign a petition calling on the zoo to suspend Dauphine from her duties until the matter is resolved. The petition has so far garnered more than 6,000 signatures.

For full text of the letter to the National Zoo, see


About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the nation’s leading advocate for stray and feral cats. Their website is