Eleven animals possibly stolen from Gainesville zoo

- Eleven animals have disappeared from their exhibits at a Gainesville zoo.

The string of missing animals occurred over the past week and has workers with the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo in Gainesville, Florida visibly upset. It started on May 24, when two gopher tortoises and two box turtles went missing from their enclosures.

A week later, zookeepers discovered another seven animals missing, including a squirrel monkey, a skink, two red-foot tortoises and three more box turtles. 

“This feels very personal,” said Jade Salamone, conservation education specialist. “We’re heartbroken. We take this as a deep violation of everything that we care about and it was a terror on our animals that were taken.

Santa Fe College police say they have evidence confirming the animals were stolen, and did not escape. Zookeepers say some of the animals are a health risk because they are not receiving the medical care they need. 

“A lot of our animals that were taken from us were here for a reason because they need medical care and medical assistance,” said Clarie Santiago, a zoo keeper. “The fact that they’re not here really concerns us for their safety.”

Police said they have increased patrols in the area while they continue their investigation. Anyone with information can call the agency at (352) 395-5519.

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