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Stray Cats Overrun Thailand’s Main Temple

June 20, 2003

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Stray cats have so overrun Thailand’s most celebrated temple that officials installed remote cameras hoping to catch people leaving the animals there.

Nearly 50 cats have become permanent residents at the Temple of Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, and officials say they are becoming a nuisance to the thousands of tourists who visit it daily.

``We feel sorry for tourists who sometimes step on cat poo and smell the urine, said temple staff member Samruay Shinkhum.

She said temple authorities believe that people who come to the temple to listen to sermons have been leaving their unwanted pets behind.

``We made a public announcement asking people not to abandon and feed cats. We patrol frequently to make sure they don’t cause problems,″ she said. All to no avail.

Samruay said the temple even sought help from the city to catch the cats, but only ``the friendly ones get caught.″ The more aggressive ones slip through, she said.

She said the dozen surveillance cameras will hopefully deter the practice.

The 221-year-old temple on the banks of Chao Phraya River is marked with extravagant and colorful carvings and decor.

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