to an article on Killer Cats in the Winter 2002
edition of Keeping Marsupials the following
seemed appropriate. The report was from the
middle of 2001 and highlights some of the
problems associated with our domestic furry
friends. As we all know cats carry a disease
known as toxoplasmosis which can be fatal in
marsupials (and also dangerous to humans,
especially pregnant women, as it affects the
The report goes on to say:-
“A disease carried by stray cats has killed
five kangaroos and three wallabies at Ohio's
world famous Columbus Zoo and forced the closure
of an Australian wildlife exhibit.
The parasitic disease, toxoplasmosis, swept
through the zoo's popular Kangaroo Walkabout
display over the past two weeks, taking a heavy
toll on the inhabitants.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium spokeswoman, Patty
Peters, said that in addition to the five
kangaroos and three wallabies that had died,
another four kangaroos and a wallaby were sick
and fighting the disease. "Toxoplasmosis in
macropods (kangaroo family) is usually fatal,"
The exhibit closed 11 days ago after nine
kangaroos and four wallabies began showing
symptoms of toxoplasmosis. The disease is
believed to have been spread by stray cats that
were living in a food barn at the zoo. They
defecated in hay used in the kangaroo
exhibit. "It is believed that the kangaroos
and wallabies may have contracted the parasite
through hay contaminated by the faeces of the
stray cats," said Ms Peters.
Of the 16 kangaroos and wallabies originally on
display, only three appear to be healthy.
Their condition is being monitored by zoo
staff for any sign of the disease. The five
sick animals are being treated with drugs.
The outbreak caused an initial public safety
scare in Columbus when an Ohio newspaper
reported that pregnant women who visited the
enclosure could have been infected. However
the Ohio Department of Health has said there is
no public health risk at the zoo.
Kangaroo Walkabout opened in 1997 as a temporary
exhibit but because of its popularity the
display has reopened every year during the
holiday season. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
promotes itself as one of the finest animal
education and research facilities in the United
States. It is home to 700 species and over
11,000 individual specimens.
The zoo has no immediate plans to reopen
Kangaroo Walkabout. "After we know how many
animals are going to make it, we'll talk about
reopening the exhibit," Ms Peters told local