11 animals missing, may have been stolen from Gainesville zoo

Turtles, tortoises, monkey, skink disappeared from Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Santa Fe College Police Department in Gainesville has increased security at the college's teaching zoo after 11 animals disappeared. Investigators believe they may have been stolen.

A spokesperson for the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo said after a World Turtle Day exhibit on May 23, two gopher tortoises and two box turtles disappeared. A week later, another seven animals vanished, including a squirrel monkey, skink and turtles.

Students like Chris Isaac receive hands-on training to clean, feed and care for the nearly 200 animals at the zoo.

"We provide daily care. We get inside the enclosures with the animals. We make sure they're OK," Isaac said.

GALLERY: Exhibits, animals at Santa Fe Teaching Zoo

Isacc was one of the students who noticed the animals were gone. The zoo said it appears all of the animals taken were relatively small and in outside enclosures.

"Some of the animals are being treated for bacterial infections. They require antibiotics," said Jonathan Miot, the zoo's director. "If they aren't receiving those antibiotics, their lives could literally be threatened."

Police said due to evidence the animals were stolen, patrols in the area have increased. Because some of the animals are protected species and are sick, it could be a third-degree felony to harm them.

Anyone with information about the animals is asked to contact the Santa Fe Police Department at (352) 395-5519.