Monday, December 31, 2007

Orlando Sentinel: Ban Private Ownership

Ban private ownership

Your Dec. 26 article on the many exotic animals living in backyard cages in Florida reported that 22 states ban the private ownership of lions, tigers and other exotic wildlife. It's high time Florida joined those states.

Perhaps the most persuasive argument in support of a ban is that of public safety; witness the tiger that recently escaped its cage at the San Francisco Zoo and killed a visitor. Many of the exotic animals owned by private citizens in Florida can never be tamed or domesticated and will always pose a threat to their owners and neighbors.

But there are compelling moral and ethical arguments, as well. I believe every animal was created by God to have a distinct, individual purpose on this planet. Related to this purpose is a distinct nature and set of behaviors. Clearly a lion was created to be a lion, to exhibit all aspects of "lion-ness"-- to roam, to hunt, to patrol the pride's territory, to groom itself and its pride-mates, to mate and raise young.

Surely we can see that keeping wild creatures penned up in small (or even large) cages thoroughly thwarts and frustrates their ability to fulfill their distinct, God-created purposes. No matter how well-intentioned the owners or how well they purport to "take care" of their exotic charges, a wild animal cannot possibly feel satisfied or content in a backyard cage. Too many aspects of its intrinsic nature are completely denied in such an unnatural setting.


Furthermore, there's no convincing need for private citizens to keep such animals -- no reasoning that trumps these moral and ethical considerations.

We can do better. We can outlaw the private ownership of exotic animals, and then work to ensure that wild habitats are preserved so that animals can fulfill their God-given purposes in their natural environments.

JENNIFER THOMAS-LARMER
Orlando

You can post your comment here: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/letters/orl-le31_107dec31,0,5395960.story


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Exotic-cat shelter offers reward in tiger shooting

Exotic-cat shelter offers reward in tiger shooting
 
10:37 PM CST on Sunday, December 30, 2007
From staff reports
 
A shelter for exotic cats in Tampa, Fla., is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction for the person responsible for killing a tiger whose carcass was found in Dallas on Tuesday.
 
Big Cat Rescue will pass along any information it receives to authorities investigating the shooting death of the female Bengal tiger found near Interstate 35E and Overton Road. The tiger had been shot at least five times.
 
Anybody with information can call Scott Lope, Big Cat Rescue director of operations, at 813-323-5991 or e-mail info@bigcatrescue.org.
 
 
 


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Tiger kills woman near Nagpur

Tiger kills woman near Nagpur
 
Sunday, December 30, 2007 10:36:00 AM
Ashwin Aghor
 
MUMBAI: Another tiger attack has been reported from Talodhi, where a supposed maneater had been shot dead by sharpshooters on November 30.
 
A 30-year-old woman, Rekha Govind Meshram, of Navargaon village was found dead inside a forest, where she had gone to collect firewood.
 
The divisional forest officer, Brahmapuri Hrishi-kesh Ranjan, said, "Pug marks around her body and wounds on the body confirm an attack by a tiger."
 
This comes close on the heels of the killing of a youth Tanaji Raut from Navtala village by a tiger.
 
Meanwhile, a leopard was found dead on the Nagpur-Chandrapur road at 7pm on Saturday. The leopard's body has been sent for a post-mortem as the cause of death could not be ascertained.
 
 
 


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Tiger kills fisherman in Sunderbans

Tiger kills fisherman in Sunderbans
 
30 Dec 2007, 0420 hrs IST, TNN
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KOLKATA: A 21-year-old resident of Patharpratima in South 24-Parganas was killed and partly eaten by a tiger in the Sunderbans on Thursday afternoon.

Villagers, escorted by forest department officials, returned to the forest on Friday and recovered Buno Bhakta's body, which was brought back to Patharpratima on Saturday morning and sent for post-mortem.

Buno was part of a five-member group that had gone into the Chulkati forest to look for crabs on Thursday. The tiger attacked when they were returning with their catch later in the day.

"It was getting dark when the tiger pounced on our group. It picked up Buno in a flash and disappeared into the forest. We could do little as we did not have weapons. We shouted and screamed, hoping to scare away the tiger, but Buno did not return to the boat. Finally, we left for our village," said one of Buno's friends.

The party reached Saptadaspur in Patharpratima on Friday morning and alerted forest officers.

A large group comprising villagers and foresters returned to the spot where the tiger had attacked. Buno's body was found a few metres into the forest.

"It seems the tiger killed Buno, but left the body when his group of friends raised an alarm. It returned later to gorge on the flesh. The large party that returned to retrieve the body may have scared the tiger away the second time," said a forest official.

Villagers said the youth normally pulled a rickshaw-van or worked in the fields to make a living. He entered the forest at times for some extra earnings.

Foresters said people like Buno enter the forest without permit and are not eligible for compensation. At least 50-60 persons fall prey to the Sunderbans tigers every year while trying to sneak into the forest, looking for firewood, honey, crabs or fish.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



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Did This Tiger Hold a Grudge?

Did This Tiger Hold a Grudge?
 
Friday, Dec. 28, 2007 By ALEXANDRA SILVER
 
The Siberian tiger that killed Carlos Sousa Jr., 17, and mauled two other men, brothers Paul Dhaliwal, 19, and Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23, at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day, has sparked a police investigation and much speculation as to who is to blame. Authorities are still investigating how the animal escaped — recent reports indicate she could have jumped or scaled the enclosure's wall, which is nearly 4 ft. lower than the recommended standard — and whether or not the victims taunted her before the attacks.
 
 
However uncertain the preceding circumstances, the facts of the assault are clearer: Just before the zoo's closing time, the 4-year-old tiger named Tatiana escaped her pen and attacked the older of the Dhaliwal brothers, then turned on and killed Sousa, who was apparently trying to save his friend by distracting the animal. She then made her way 300 yards to the zoo cafĂ©, following a trail of blood left by the first injured man who had fled with his brother. It was there she attacked her third victim, the younger Dhaliwal, and was shot dead by police officers — 20 minutes after they had received the call that the tiger was loose.
 
So, what exactly was Tatiana's motive? It may well be that she, despite being born into captivity and identified with a human name, was simply being a tiger — acting as any other predator would in nature. It's no surprise that tigers can be aggressive. But is it possible that Tatiana may have remembered the three men — who may have taunted her — and set out for them specifically? Was she, in other words, holding a grudge?
 
"That tiger could have been surrounded by 10,000 people," says Dave Salmoni, the Animal Planet network's predator expert, who spent years training big cats; but if the animal has a mission, "it will avoid all of those people and just to go to those three people." Says Salmoni, "There's nothing more focused than a tiger who wants to kill something." The thing is, though, it's not easy to prompt such enmity: "To get a tiger to want to fight you is pretty hard," says Salmoni. "Tigers don't like to fight. They hunt to kill and eat. That's it." Unlike lions, which grow up in groups and are used to sparring, tigers are solitary animals,
responsible for their own food and survival, Salmoni says. They will take the risk to fight only "if they feel they have to."
 
The gap between Tatiana's attacks on the men at the San Francisco Zoo was relatively brief, so the word "grudge," which implies ill will that persists over time, may not be appropriate in this situation. Perhaps Tatiana's behavior would more accurately be described as a crime of passion — no grudge necessary. Still, could years of captivity have led to harbored resentment against humans, and her eventual attack?
 
Citing Tatiana's so-called history of violence — her assault just over a year ago on a zookeeper during a feeding — Salmoni says, "It may hold what we call a grudge on people." Tatiana wasn't put down then because the zoo director had determined that the tiger was acting as a normal tiger does.
 
Captive animals have acted violently before. In 2006 an orca (a.k.a. killer whale) at SeaWorld in San Diego attacked its trainer, who survived. That summer an elephant killed its handler at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. In 2004 a gorilla at the Dallas Zoo went on a rampage, injuring four people. A white tiger critically hurt illusionist Roy Horn, half of the performing duo Siegfried & Roy, at the Mirage Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas in 2003. More recently, in February 2007, a jaguar at the Denver Zoo killed a keeper. Despite these, among other dramatic attacks, some people wonder why they don't happen more often. Salmoni suggests it's because animals are actually "very forgiving," and that the stories we hear are the exceptions. So, are those exceptions evidence that animals bear grudges?
 
It's controversial, but some experts believe it's possible. "There's a difference between what we know anecdotally and what we can prove," says Salmoni. Most people who work with animals, he says, would agree that they act on past experience. True, what we refer to as a grudge might more accurately be characterized, in the animal world, as conditional reinforcement. "Any animal that can be trained can remember, and if you can remember, you can hold a grudge," says Salmoni. If a 6-ft.-tall man once threw rocks at a puppy, that puppy could be conditioned to believe, later in life, that another 6-ft.-tall man is a threat, and may attack him.
 
Elephants, whose memory is often celebrated, have also been thought by some experts to hold grudges. But "grudge" may be the wrong word — and it's not exactly a scientific term. More tenable than the notion of animals bearing grudges is the theory that they suffer stress. A 2005 paper in the journal Nature examined what some scientists called an "elephant breakdown" in Africa, and argued that elephants that had randomly attacked rhinoceroses were behaving pathologically. They were, the scientists suggested, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — terminology usually reserved for humans — responding to years of hardship, inflicted by people. Their population and social order had been decimated by poaching, culls and habitat loss, and the elephants, in a sense, were striking back. Neuroscientist Allan N. Schore, one of the paper's authors and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the UCLA Medical School, demurred at calling such actions "revenge" or evidence of a "grudge" — but says the fact that elephants act out under stress suggests that their psychology may not be so different from ours.
 
One of Schore's co-authors, Gay Bradshaw, professor of psychology and ecology at Oregon State University and director of the Kerulos Centre for the Study of Animal Psychology and Trauma Recovery, uses the term "trans-species psychology" in her work. She acknowledges that human and animal psychology are not the same, but says they hold more similarities than we tend to think. Like Schore, she's reluctant to use the word "grudge" when it comes to animals' motivations. But she believes that animals, like humans, can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, of which captivity is a key trigger, and can act abnormally.
 
Tatiana, a zoo tiger, was not acting under "natural" conditions, Bradshaw points out, and the animal's physical and social limitations ought to be taken into account when examining her violent behavior. This is not to say the tiger might not have attacked had she been in the wild, but Bradshaw says her history of captivity can't be ignored. Like the elephants in Africa, she might have been striking back.
 
The science of animal sentience is far from a firm one; there's no way of knowing exactly what any animal is feeling. But it's conceivable that something in Tatiana's life, beyond her instinct, could have impelled her to attack. She may have been simply behaving like a tiger — but, perhaps, behaving like a tiger is not so psychologically distinct from behaving like a human.
 
 
 


For The Tiger
Dee

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Big-cat experts say a determined tiger could get over 12 1/2-foot wall

Big-cat experts say a determined tiger could get over 12 1/2-foot wall
(BCR Quoted)
 
Saturday, December 29, 2007
 
Big-cat experts say a fully grown tiger could very likely climb the 12 1/2-foot moat wall at the San Francisco Zoo, especially if there were little or no water in the moat.
 
"That height would be scalable," said Ronald Tilson, director of conservation at the Minnesota Zoo, who since 1987 has been overseeing the tiger species survival plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
 
"A tiger cannot leap over something like that, but what it can do is stand up and with a little hop or jump, more than likely get its paws on the ledge," Tilson said. "That would not be much of a trick. And they are so powerful that they can scoot themselves up."
 
Authorities still don't know exactly how Tatiana, a 4-year-old Siberian tiger, escaped from her enclosure at the zoo on Christmas Day before fatally attacking one teenager and mauling two other young men.
 
But Tilson said the height of the wall protecting the public from the tigers "gives a reasonable explanation that the tiger got out from that spot." The recommended standard height for tiger enclosures is 16.4 feet.
 
It's not clear how far Tatiana could stretch her body when standing on her hind legs, but big-cat experts said it's not unusual for tigers to be able to stretch to 10 feet or more. Tigers can also hop from their hind legs as much as 3 or 4 feet in the air.
 
"I'm 6 feet tall, and when we have a tiger stand up, they tower over me," said Scott Lope, director of operations at Big Cat Rescue, a sanctuary with more than 100 felines in Tampa, Fla. "They're easily able to stretch to 8 feet, and with a reach and an easy 4- or 5-foot jump, they've already spanned that distance.
 
"Nobody's measured exactly how far or how high they can jump," he said. "But this was a young, healthy animal. It could have jumped quite high, and if the wall was not a smooth surface it could get a clawhold."
 
Sources have told The Chronicle that Tatiana's rear claws showed signs of wear that could support the theory that the tiger used her rear legs to climb the wall. Authorities have not ruled out the possibility that one of the victims dangled an arm or leg over the wall and that Tatiana latched onto the limb to pull herself out. But big-cat experts said she wouldn't have needed that extra leverage to climb over the wall.
 
Water in the moat could keep a tiger from climbing a wall, but it would have to be deep enough that the tiger's paws couldn't touch the bottom, Tilson said. The moat in the San Francisco Zoo enclosure is dry, which tiger experts said is not uncommon in zoo exhibits.
Unlike domestic house cats, tigers like water and will wade or swim in it if they can, big-cat experts said.
 
While there's little doubt that a tiger could escape over a 12 1/2-foot wall, experts said that thousands of the animals are kept in enclosures protected by walls roughly the same height, and yet they never escape. It's clear, they said, that something provoked Tatiana to climb the wall.
 
"The problem is not necessarily a 12-foot wall. I know tigers around the world that are perfectly safe behind 10-foot or 12-foot walls," said Martine Colette, founder of the Wildlife WayStation refuge for wild and exotic animals in Southern California. "The problem is the stimulus. There had to have been a tremendous stimulus that made the tiger react the way she did. If the wall was 20 feet tall, she still would have made the attempt."
 
While zoo officials have said that they suspect the tiger may have been taunted, police have regularly said they have no proof of that.
 
 
 
 


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Zoo director says tiger wall lower than recommended height

Zoo director says tiger wall lower than recommended height
 
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The director of the zoo where a teenager was killed by an escaped tiger acknowledged Thursday that the wall around the animal's pen was just 12½ feet high — well below the height recommended by the main accrediting agency for the nation's zoos.
 
San Francisco Zoo Director Manuel A. Mollinedo also admitted that it is becoming increasingly clear the 300-pound Siberian tiger leaped or climbed out of its open-air enclosure, perhaps by grabbing onto a ledge.
 
"She had to have jumped," he said. "How she was able to jump that high is amazing to me." Mollinedo said investigators have ruled out the theory the tiger escaped through a door behind the exhibit.
 
According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the walls around a tiger exhibit should be at least 16.4 feet high. But Mollinedo said the nearly 70-year-old wall at the zoo's big-cat enclosure was 12 feet, 5 inches, with a moat 33 feet across.
 
He said safety inspectors had examined the 1940 wall and never raised any red flags about its size.
 
"When the AZA came out and inspected our zoo three years ago, they never noted that as a deficiency," he said. said. "Obviously now that something's happened, we're going to be revisiting the actual height."
 
On Wednesday, Mollinedo said that the wall was 18 feet high and the moat was 20 feet wide. Based on those earlier, incorrect estimates, animal experts expressed disbelief that a tiger in captivity could have made such a spectacular leap.
 
AZA spokesman Steven Feldman said that the minimum height is just a guideline and that a zoo could still be deemed safe even if its wall were lower.
 
Accreditation standards require "that the barriers be adequate to keep the animals and people apart from each other," Feldman said. "Obviously something happened to cause that not to be the case in this incident."
 
Many other U.S. zoos have significantly higher walls around their tigers.
 
Feldman would not comment on how difficult it would be for a tiger to scale a 12½-wall. But Siberian tigers are known to have phenomenal strength, at least in the wild.
 
"There are rare glimpses of this in the real world that suggest, when taunted, tigers can be fairly extraordinary in their physical feats," said Ronald Tilson, who is director of conservation at the Minnesota Zoo and the big-cat expert who sets safety standards for tiger exhibits at North American zoos.
 
The animal went on a rampage near closing time on Christmas Day, mauling three visitors before it was shot to death by police. Carlos Sousa Jr., 17, died and two brothers, ages 19 and 23, suffered severe bite and claw wounds.
 
Police are still investigating and have declared the big-cat exhibit a crime scene.
 
The San Francisco Chronicle, citing anonymous sources, reported Thursday that police are looking into the possibility that the victims had taunted the tiger and dangled a leg or other body part over the edge of the moat. The newspaper said police had found a shoe and blood inside the enclosure.
 
But at an afternoon news conference, Police Chief Heather Fong said police had no information that anyone had put a leg over the railing, and she said no shoe was found in the animal's enclosure. She did not address whether the victims had teased the tiger.
She said a shoeprint was found on the railing of the fence surrounding the enclosure, and police are checking it against the shoes of the three victims.
 
"Right now, what I want to know is if it was taunting, who did it? Why, why wasn't this protected right? I want some answers," said the dead teenager's father. As for the zoo, "They know what they did wrong, they know what they did."
 
Mollinedo said surveillance cameras and new fencing will be installed around the exhibit. The zoo will remain closed Friday.
 
At the Bronx Zoo, the tigers are surrounded by a 20-foot-high chain-link fence with a 5-foot overhang that curls inward at the top. An electrified wire runs along the inside of the fence.
The Philadelphia Zoo said it has 16-foot walls topped with a 3-foot overhang. At the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, Va., the walls are 15 to 20 feet high with a 5-foot overhang and an electrified wire. At the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, the wire fence is about 17 feet.
 
At the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Assistant Director Don Winstel said he checked the architectural drawings and plans for the enclosure on Wednesday, and found that the walls and fence around the tigers are no lower than 16 feet.
 
But "now that you mention it, I think I'll take a tape measure out there tomorrow and make sure," he said.
 
The AZA said in a statement that this was the first time a visitor had been killed because of an animal escape at an AZA-accredited zoo.
 
"The San Francisco Zoo is a great zoo, it's an accredited AZA member in good standing, and it has our support during this difficult time," AZA president and chief executive Jim Maddy said.
 
 
 


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Zoo workers did not announce tiger escape, failed to follow rules

Zoo workers did not announce tiger escape, failed to follow rules
 
Saturday, December 29, 2007
 
Remain calm. Ensure the safety of zoo visitors. Recapture the animal. Ensure the safety of the animal.
 
That's how to handle an escaped tiger, according to the official emergency plan of the San Francisco Zoo.
 
Little of that happened, however, in the frantic moments on Christmas when an escaped Siberian tiger mauled one visitor to death and injured two others before it was shot and killed by police.
 
And some patrons inside the zoo at the time said they were completely unaware of the escaped tiger while it was roaming the grounds - an apparent violation of the zoo's emergency plan.
 
The tiger killed Carlos Sousa Jr., 17, of San Jose and injured his friends, brothers Amritpal "Paul" Dhaliwal, 19, and Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23. The brothers are expected to be released from the hospital Saturday. The 100-acre zoo is expected to reopen Thursday.
 
The 18-page "Emergency Procedures" manual, written in 2006 and given to all employees, spells out what zookeepers, guards and even the receptionist in the main office are supposed to do if a "Siberian tiger is out of its enclosure" or any other dangerous animal escapes.
 
Zookeepers who observe the escape of a dangerous animal are supposed to call a "Code One" to the zoo security office. A Code One means that a "life-threatening or dangerous animal" has gotten loose and that armed assistance is required. Officials said that happened after the Tuesday attack.
 
The zoo has a "shooting team" that is supposed to respond promptly to Code One emergencies. It never did. On Christmas, the shooting was done not by zoo personnel but by four police officers.
 
Guards should "direct visitors away from the (animal) and secure people inside of buildings if appropriate," according to the plan.
 
But zoo visitor Rajesh Bhatia of San Mateo, who was visiting the zoo with his wife, two children and his wife's parents, said that never happened, either.
 
He and his family visited the large cat exhibit at 4:45 p.m., about 20 minutes before the tiger got loose, he said. Then they went to get something to eat. While the tiger was escaping and then mauling a visitor at the Terrace Cafe on the east side of the zoo, Bhatia and his family were dining in the Leaping Lemur cafe on the zoo's west side.
 
For nearly half an hour, there were no announcements, warnings or alarms, he said.
Zoo officials on Friday refused to answer any questions, and The Chronicle could not find out if the zoo has a public announcement system.
 
At 5:35 p.m., the family was returning to their car in the parking lot. Only then, Bhatia said, did a zoo guard warn them about a "loose animal."
 
"I don't know why they didn't let us know sooner," he said. "It's shocking. Thank God my family is alive."
 
Bhatia said he is never returning to the zoo.
 
Another visitor, a 42-year-old man from Mountain View who was visiting with his wife and two young children, said he was still on zoo grounds for 20 minutes after the escape and was also not warned about a loose animal.
 
"If I had, I would have run, I can tell you that," said the man, who preferred not to be identified by name.
 
Zoo officials refused to answer questions about the incident on Friday.
 
According to the plan, the veterinary staff is supposed to "gather chemical immobilization equipment in preparation for anesthetizing the animal." Dispatch records also suggest that emergency responders couldn't immediately find a zoo official with a tranquilizer gun.
 
The main office receptionist is supposed to "assume the role of liaison to outside emergency response systems," assuming he or she has remained calm enough to do so.
Meanwhile, the plan instructs zoo custodians, handymen and popcorn vendors to "remain inside (and) close the door" which, on Tuesday evening, may have been the most followed instruction of all.
 
 
 


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Animal activists say S.F. tiger attack supports case against zoos

Animal activists say S.F. tiger attack supports case against zoos
 
Saturday, December 29, 2007
 
The recent tiger attack in San Francisco has given a platform to animal rights activists, who say holding wild animals in captivity is cruel, for-profit entertainment and should be stopped.
 
Those who despise zoos - and not just PETA, though the group did join the chorus - say the attack proves that animals are unhappy and that zoos should be phased out.
 
"The major problem with zoos is they put the entertainment value at a higher priority than the welfare or well-being of the animals," said Elliot Katz, president of In Defense of Animals, a Mill Valley animal rights group. "Because elephants and tigers are big draws, the zoo creates dangerous situations."
 
Katz helped organize the effort to get the elephants removed from the San Francisco Zoo after obtaining medical records that showed they were being mistreated. He said that both elephants and tigers need much more space than the zoo provides.
 
Katz hopes the publicity from the Christmas Day mauling death of 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. will result in the removal of the tiger exhibit.
 
Lisa Soldavini, a 50-year-old animal rights activist from Petaluma, said she believes animals should not be kept in zoos because zoos do not treat them well. She said many people wrongly believe that the animals are provided enough space and are happy.
 
"We are brought up in a culture that says zoos are fun, but we should really be angry that these animals are taken out of their natural habitat so that people can gawk at them," she said. "This is done for profit, not education, and it's frustrating that the public doesn't get that. People can learn about wild animals by watching the excellent documentaries available on Discovery, Animal Planet and 'Wild Kingdom.' "
 
Tom Harrison, a member of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission who heads the city's zoo oversight committee, said earlier this week that he disagrees with people who say zoos have no place in society.
 
"We have inner-city kids who have never been able to see an animal. If it wasn't for the zoo, you would never hear about the preservation of these animals," Harrison said. "It's just so sad to me that this has turned into something so negative."
 
The day after Sousa was killed, officials at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to the director of the zoo, asking that he give serious consideration to phasing out the tiger exhibit. They argued the animals would be better off in a sanctuary setting.
 
"We oppose all zoos for many reasons, and this attack is a prime example of things going wrong," said Lisa Wathne, a PETA spokeswoman. "No one should be surprised by this incident - that a wild animal would act on her instinct.
 
"There is not a zoo in this country that comes close to providing tigers with the space that they need. The San Francisco Zoo made the decision to put its elephants in a sanctuary," Wathne said, "and they should make the same decision for tigers."
 
In San Francisco, an estimated $7.5 million in taxpayer money will go to zoo operations and maintenance this year, according to the city controller.
 
"With all that money and the 1,000 acres that the zoo sits on, they could create a safe space for animals whose habitats are destroyed," Katz said. "Entertainment is intrusive. Sanctuaries are a better idea."
 
Animal sanctuaries offer large spaces for animals that are old, mistreated, sick or retired. They are usually not open to the public, and activists say they offer a peaceful and rehabilitative setting.
 
Activist Deniz Bolbol, who believes zoos could be more progressive and educational, has gone to the zoo to talk to visitors about what they are observing. Animals confined for entertainment begin to act unnatural: Giraffes lick, tigers pace, and elephants sway, she said, noting that visitors are often very receptive to her message.
 
"Those are behaviors that you would not see in the wild, and the vast majority of people don't even know that they are looking at behaviors that result from confinement," Bolbol said. "It's really sad to see parents and children only spend 30 seconds at an exhibit and basically make fun of the animals. They don't even know what they are looking at.
 
"It breaks my heart."
 
 
 


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5,000 Reward for Tiger Killer Conviction

Big Cat Rescue is offering a $5,000. reward for information resulting in the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the shooting death of the tiger found along side I-35E in Dallas, TX on Christmas day.

Watch the video on our home page and pass it on to your friends.  We have to put an end to this!  http://www.BigCatRescue.org

The same day the tragic tiger event happened at the San Francisco Zoo, a horrific story seemed to fall through the cracks. Please read below and pass this on. All credible information will be passed onto the authorities.



By DAVID SCHECHTER / WFAA-TV 

DALLAS - Sanitation crews in Dallas made a shocking discovery after they received a call about a dead animal on Christmas Day. 
A female Bengal tiger was found dead when the crews searched a wooded area near Interstate 35E and Overton Road. A city spokesperson said the tiger was shot several times. The animal, which was declawed and wearing a make-shift leash, was taken to the Dallas Zoo. A necropsy, the animal version of an autopsy, was completed at the zoo early Thursday evening. The tiger was estimated to be around one-years-old and weighed about 180 pounds. Shell casing were found in the tiger's chest and face. In all, there were five bullet entries. Chuck Siegel, deputy director of the Dallas Zoo, said he believes the tiger may have become more than the owner could handle. 
"I find it very, very disturbing to see the nature of the collar-leash, which looks more like a bicycle cable than anything else," he said. "And this rusted wire, which is tangled around the leash, is obviously very hazardous." The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the United States Department of Agriculture are investigating the incident and searching for the owner of the tiger. 

***BIG CAT RESCUE IS OFFERING A $5,000.00 REWARD FOR INFORMATION RESULTING IN THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF THE PERSON OR PERSONS RESPONSIBLE FOR KILLING THE FEMALE TIGER WHO WAS FOUND SHOT TO DEATH IN DALLAS, TEXAS ON CHRISTMAS DAY.
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Friday, December 28, 2007

Tiger found dead near Dallas freeway probably a pet

Tiger found dead near Dallas freeway probably a pet



DALLAS — A veterinarian at the Dallas Zoo performed a necropsy Thursday on a female tiger found shot to death near an apartment complex, a zoo official said.

The tiger did not belong to the zoo and was believed to have been someone's pet. It was found Christmas Day in a vacant lot near a busy interstate and an apartment complex, said zoo spokeswoman Susan Eckert.

The Department of Agriculture is investigating, Eckert said.

An unidentified caller phoned a city hotline on Christmas Day about a dead animal, Eckert said. A sanitation crew that arrived to clean it up found a full-grown tiger under a blue tarp.

"They knew this wasn't a normal thing to find along the road, so they delivered it to the zoo," Eckert said.

Zoo veterinarian Dr. Thomas Alvarado performed a necropsy, an autopsy for animals. He found five gunshot wounds, including one in the head and one in the thorax.

The tiger was nearly 6 feet long and weighed about 180 pounds. Zoo officials believe it is a Bengal tiger and was "fairly young," Eckert said. It appeared to have been in good health before being shot, although it hadn't eaten in about a day.

The tiger had all its teeth. Zoo officials said they believe it was someone's pet because it was declawed and had a collar around its neck. It also had a leash that appeared to be a bicycle chain, Eckert said.

The zoo will store the tiger's body until federal officials decide what to do with it, Eckert said.


Dead tiger found in Dallas


09:09 PM CST on Thursday, December 27, 2007

By JOANNA CATTANACH / The Dallas Morning News 
jcattanach@dallasnews.com

The Dallas Zoo's veterinary staff spent Thursday examining a tiger found dead and wrapped in a bloody sheet in east Oak Cliff.

Sanitation workers responding to a call to the city's service hotline on Christmas Day found the tiger's body near Interstate 35 and Overton Road, city spokeswoman Danielle McClelland said.


The tiger had suffered at least five bullet wounds, including one through its heart.

The female Bengal tiger mix is estimated to be between 1 and 2 years old, 6 feet long and about 180 pounds. Bengal tigers are native to India and the surrounding Indian subcontinent.

The tiger was declawed, had a collar and a wire cable that may have served as a leash attached to it.

"It's very disturbing," said Chuck Siegel, the zoo's deputy director of animal management. "It raises a lot of questions. Who is keeping a tiger and in what conditions in or near the city of Dallas?"

It is illegal for individuals to keep exotic animals within city limits.

Because the animal had been declawed, it's likely that it had been to a veterinarian, Mr. Siegel said. There were no apparent signs of neglect or abuse.

"It looked like it was in good health," he said.

Mr. Siegel said the tiger's body was examined Thursday after zoo officials contacted the U.S. Agriculture Department's Investigative and Enforcement Services division. Federal investigators will be on hand today to look into the case.

The tiger was found the same day a Siberian tiger was shot after it escaped its enclosure and attacked visitors at the San Francisco Zoo, killing one person and injuring two others.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/122807dnmettiger.59eb712e.html



Thursday, December 27, 2007

‘Tiger Tales’ still a draw for Hub zoo

'Tiger Tales' still a draw for Hub zoo
 
By Renee Nadeau and Jessica Heslam | Thursday, December 27, 2007 |
http://www.bostonherald.com | Local Coverage
 
Anala and Luther continued to draw visitors at Franklin Park Zoo
yesterday, despite news of the deadly tiger escape at a West Coast
zoo, as parents and kids enjoyed Boston's twin cat exhibit - albeit
behind a 20-foot fence.
 
"I looked at it and I thought that looks pretty good with the
electric wire, but who knows," added Christina Durant of Jamaica
Plain. "I mean, we brought a 6-month-old."
 
Corliss Angle of Brookline, who brought her two granddaughters to the
Boston zoo yesterday, said, "It never crossed our minds that anything
would go wrong. It's a wonderful place. I guess these things happen."
 
"Tiger Tales" debuted at the Franklin Park Zoo in 2006 - the first
time tigers have been at the zoo in more than 30 years. Anala and
Luther, two rescued tigers, are enclosed in a wire fence and chest-
high glass partition.
 
At the San Francisco Zoo, investigators are trying to figure out how
a 300-pound tiger named Tatiana escaped from her enclosure and killed
a man and mauled two others Tuesday night. The same tiger ripped into
a zookeeper's arm about a year ago.
 
That tiger enclosure is surrounded by a 15-foot-wide moat and 20-foot-
high walls.
 
Boston's zoo was famously rocked by its own animal escape fiasco in
2003 when a 300-pound gorilla named Little Joe got loose and attacked
a 2 -year-old Roxbury girl.
 
Zoo New England, which runs the Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo in
Stoneham, said in a statement they were "deeply saddened" by the
attack and insisted their zoos are safe.
 
"At Zoo New England, the well-being of our visitors, staff and
animals is our top priority, and we have extensive safety procedures
in place. Additionally, we perform ongoing inspections of all of our
animal enclosure systems to prevent against escape," the organization
said.
 
Karen Eggert, spokeswoman with the USDA's animal and plant health
inspection service, said, "At this point, we're only looking into the
incident at the San Francisco Zoo."
 
The two Bay State zoos - as well as the San Francisco Zoo - are
accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Officials
at Zoo New England referred calls to the AZA yesterday.
 
"AZA-accredited zoos are safe," the association said in a
statement. "Until this incident, there had not been a visitor
fatality resulting from an animal escape at an AZA-accredited zoo."
 
 
Tiger Tales
 
Tiger Tales features the Zoo's new tigers, Anala and Luther, and aims
to educate guests about the problems that arise when exotic animals
fall into the wrong hands as well as the misinformation surrounding
white tigers (Luther is white).
The opening of this exhibit in June 2006 marked the first time tigers
have been exhibited at Franklin Park Zoo in more than 30 years.
 
 
 
Roar of the Crowd
 
Tigers can weigh 600 pounds, leap as far as 24 feet, and break a
deer's neck with a single well-placed chomp. They sure do make bad
pets. That's what visitors to the Franklin Park Zoo learned when
Bengal Tiger ANALA and White Tiger LUTHER went on display in June
after the US Fish and Wildlife Service rescued them from their
neglectful, outlaw owners in a sting operation. In addition to being
one of the most impressive animal exhibits at the zoo in years, the
display is designed to help educate visitors about the plight of
tigers illegally kept in the United States. Franklin Park Zoo, 1
Franklin Park Road, Dorchester, 617-541-5466, zoonewengland.com
 
 
 


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A Tiger Goes on a Rampage: Can It Happen Here?

A Tiger Goes on a Rampage: Can It Happen Here?
 
December 27, 2007
 
New Yorkers have plenty of reasons to be on edge when walking the streets, from armed thugs to reckless taxi drivers to aggressive hawkers.
 
Tigers, it is safe to say, would not be on the list. And for good cause: They are kept in zoos and are supposed to be kept safely away from people.
 
Except that what happened in San Francisco has raised the question of urban tigers.
 
Authorities there are still trying to determine how a tiger in the San Francisco Zoo got out of its pen and killed one person and seriously injured two others on Tuesday evening. The tiger, a 300-pound Siberian named Tatiana, was shot and killed by the police.
 
Still, in the New York area, plenty of zoogoers seemed unperturbed by the dreadful and extremely unusual episode. At Tiger Mountain in the Bronx Zoo, where seven Siberian tigers are kept, hundreds of visitors Wednesday paraded past huge windows that look into a wooded, hilly area where two of the tigers, Taurus and Norma, were roaming.
 
"I would be a lot more worried about my neighbors having all sorts of weird animals, or even dogs that their owners don't control," said Kate Szur, 39, who was visiting from Brooklyn with her husband and 4-year-old daughter. "I think the tigers escaping is a very rare occurrence."
 
Indeed, they do seem to be rare, according to zookeepers and others who handle wild animals for a living. These professionals said tigers, even those that have lived in captivity all their lives, always act on instinct, particularly if they wander outside their territory, or safe zone.
 
"Tigers are a combination of strong instincts and strong emotions and no inhibition," said Louis Dorfman, an animal behaviorist at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Boyd, Tex., 30 miles north of Fort Worth. "Once this cat gets out, it's immediately in its instinctual mode."
 
Mr. Dorfman and others said accredited zoos had enough security measures in place to ensure that the only way a tiger was likely to escape was through human error, like a door left unlocked.
 
Experts say it is rare for an animal to escape from a professionally maintained facility in New York, but New Yorkers have been known to keep exotic pets, including boa constrictors.
 
At the Bronx Zoo, the tigers' habitat is surrounded by a 20-foot-high chain-link fence with a 5-foot overhang that curls inward at the top. An electrified "hot wire" runs along the inside of the fence. The wire blends into the landscape, but it carries enough electricity to stun the tigers, so they have learned to steer clear of it, zookeepers say.
 
There are also metal rings around tree trunks to keep the tigers from scaling the trees and jumping over the fence.
 
Still, many of the children passing the window and looking into the tigers' territory screamed with fear when they first saw them. They weigh as much as 650 pounds and are strong enough to crush their prey's vertebrae in one bite.
 
Some adults were not taking chances. Sgt. Regan Kelly, a police officer from Mamaroneck who was visiting with his wife, joked that he was loaded for bear.
 
"I made sure I was armed with extra ammo today," he said, nodding to his gun beneath his jacket. "And here everyone is training for terrorists."
 
While tigers kept in zoos are typically well secured, there are other settings in which the animals have been a menace, or worse. In October 2003, Roy Horn of the magic and tiger-training team of Siegfried and Roy was mauled by a 400-pound white tiger during a show in Las Vegas. Mr. Horn had worked with the tiger for years, but is still undergoing rehabilitation and walks with a cane.
 
Just a day after the attack on Mr. Horn, New Yorkers had their own walk on the wild side when a 400-pound Bengal tiger and a five-foot-long caiman were discovered in an apartment in Harlem.
 
The police were alerted after the owner of the apartment, Antoine Yates, called to say he had been bitten by a pit bull. When they arrived, officers talked to neighbors who complained about large amounts of urine and a strong smell coming from the apartment.
 
To subdue the tiger, a police sniper rappelled down the side of the building and, as the tiger roared in the background, fired tranquilizer darts through an open fifth-floor window.
 
Keeping tigers in such confined spaces might be rare, and even cruel, but plenty of Americans feel comfortable keeping these animals in their backyards. Several years ago, there were more tigers in private hands in Texas than in all the nation's accredited zoos, according to Palmer Krantz III, the chairman of the board at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
 
"It would be highly irresponsible for some individual to maintain a large exotic animal as a pet," said Mr. Krantz, who is also the executive director of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, S.C. "You not only have to know what you are doing, but you also need the facilities for them."
 
In Wantage, N.J., Space Farms Zoo and Museum keeps its two Bengal tigers, Kimber and Khyber, behind a 10-foot-high heavy-gauge chain-link fence, and a 4-foot fence keeps onlookers from getting too close.
 
There are two sections in the tigers' pen and a lock between them, so when zookeepers clean one side, the tigers are locked on the opposite side. Workers check the pen daily, and the state's Division of Wildlife checks the zoo annually.
 
The security is not just about meeting regulatory requirements, said Parker Space, the park's owner.
 
"I figure it's easier to keep an eye on them than it is to chase them," he said. "You can train a wild animal, but you can never tame them."
 
Nate Schweber contributed reporting from Wantage, N.J., and Mathew R. Warren from the Bronx.
 
 
 


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S.F. Zoo's Tatiana acted her part as alpha predator, experts say

S.F. Zoo's Tatiana acted her part as alpha predator, experts say
 
Thursday, December 27, 2007
 
"She was everything that a tiger is supposed to be," said big-cat expert Ronald Tilson. "She was essentially shot and killed for being a tiger."
 
Tilson was speaking about Tatiana, the 4-year-old Siberian who fatally attacked one zoo visitor and injured two others at the San Francisco Zoo late Christmas afternoon before police officers gunned her down.
 
A year ago, she mauled her keeper, devouring the flesh from her arm. Should Tatiana have been put down at that time?
 
"There was no reason whatsoever," said Tilson, director of conservation at the Minnesota Zoo, who since 1987 has been overseeing the tiger species survival plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
 
Louis Dorfman, an animal behaviorist with the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary in Boyd, Texas, agreed that Tatiana posed no greater danger than she had before Dec. 22, 2006 - when she reached under the bars of her cage and seized the arms of zoo employee Lori Komejan as dozens of people watched.
 
"We have 60 cats here," Dorfman said. "Any one of them would have done the same thing. But they would forget about it 15 minutes later. They don't dwell on things. The only thing they dwell on is if someone mistreated them."
 
Manuel Mollinedo, executive director of the San Francisco Zoo, said, "There was never any consideration for putting her down - the tiger was acting like a normal tiger."
 
Tatiana was born in the Denver Zoo on June 27, 2003, and donated to San Francisco in December 2005 to mate with a male named Tony.
 
Tilson, who is responsible for the 147 Siberians, or Amurs, that live in more than 60 AZA-accredited zoos in North America, said, "I'm the one who made the recommendation for her to be born in Denver. I'm the one who made a recommendation to send her to San Francisco. I feel personally involved with all of this. To me, it's very disconcerting and very upsetting."
 
Tilson said he can't recall a tiger ever getting out of its enclosure and killing a zoo visitor. He added that Tatiana's behavior, once she escaped, was very much in keeping with her species.
 
"She was an alpha predator in her environment," he said. "She was killing mammals and eating meat."
 
He said any loose zoo animal would want to return to its habitat and would become upset, disoriented, frightened - and potentially dangerous.
 
"Once the animal is out of its primary enclosure, it's pretty much shoot to kill," Tilson said. "You don't have a discussion - you kill it. A tranquilizer gun would take too long and you might miss."
 
Dorfman described the Christmas carnage as extraordinarily rare.
 
"Anything they perceive as a danger they're going to strike at," he said. "That's their instinct. If everyone would stand perfectly still and not make any movement, the cat wouldn't hurt anybody."
 
Tilson said the AZA's accreditation committee will look at how the big cats are housed at the San Francisco Zoo.
 
One of those primarily involved in writing husbandry standards for exhibits, Tilson said, "We were extremely conservative. We added extra feet up and deep."
 
It was recommended that a tiger moat should be a minimum of 7 meters (almost 23 feet) wide at the top and a minimum of 5 meters high (16.4 feet) on the visitors' side, with a fence at least 5 meters high.
 
San Francisco Zoo spokeswoman Lora LaMarca said the moat is 25 to 30 feet wide, with a wall 13 1/2 to 14 feet high, from the bottom of the moat to the top. The fence is 3 to 4 feet high.
 
Marian Roth-Cramer recalled the day she and her son, who was 4 or 5, visited the tiger exhibit in 1997.
 
"My son had his hands on the metal bar," said the San Francisco woman, a children's dance and family programs coordinator at a branch of the YMCA. "All of a sudden, I saw the tiger leap over the moat, put a paw on the dirt (and hang on). I screamed and grabbed my son."
 
The animal slid away. She turned to a zookeeper and asked if he'd seen what she had. His reply: "She always does that. She hates my guts."
 
She wrote a letter to David Anderson, the zoo director at the time, about the incident and canceled her membership. She said she never got a reply.
 
Mollinedo, who took over in early 2004, said that he asked staff members after Tuesday's attack whether any big cat had ever jumped the moat or escaped the grotto, and no one could recall anything like that happening.
 
 
 


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Tiger was born in Denver

Tiger was born in Denver
 
By Alan Gathright
Originally published 09:33 a.m., December 26, 2007
Updated 06:05 p.m., December 26, 2007
 
 
The tiger that killed a teenage boy and mauled his buddies during a horrifying Christmas Day escape at the San Francisco Zoo came from Denver.
 
 
The 350-pound Siberian tiger named Tatiana was born at the Denver Zoo in June 2003 and was donated in December 2005 to the San Francisco Zoo, where officials hoped to breed her.
 
 
Today, San Francisco investigators are trying to determine how the big cat escaped its outdoor grotto, which is surrounded by a 15-foot-wide moat and a 20-foot-high wall.
 
 
At a morning news conference, San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong said investigators are treating the tiger enclosure as a crime scene "to determine if there was human involvement in the tiger getting out or if the tiger was able to get out on its own."
 
 
The dead victim was identified today as 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., of San Jose, Calif., according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
 
 
Police are looking into whether the victims broached the enclosure in any way or approached the tiger, the Chronicle reported, citing sources close to the investigation.
 
 
They are also trying to figure out whether the animal grabbed the deceased victim or used the teenager to pull herself out of the grotto, sources told the newspaper.
 
 
Police officers responding to the chaotic scene shot the big cat dead after they found it mauling one of the surviving victims.
 
 
The zoo does not have video cameras, so police will attempt to piece together what happened with physical evidence and witness accounts, Fong said.
 
 
Denver Zoo officials today expressed support for their San Francisco colleagues and the victims.
 
 
"All of us here at Denver Zoo are deeply saddened to hear about what happened at the San Francisco Zoo," Denver officials said in a statement. "We offer our sympathy to everyone involved in this tragedy."
 
 
Denver officials also stressed confidence in the security of their zoo's 43-year-old feline exhibit, which houses three tigers behind a moat that is 25-feet wide and 18-feet deep. The trio of Siberian — or Amur — tigers includes Tatiana's parents and her brother, Waldemere.
 
 
"At Denver Zoo, we have housed tigers safely without incident in the feline exhibit for more than 40 years," the statement said. "We are confident that this enclosure is safe."
 
 
Last February, a 140-pound jaguar named Jorge killed a zookeeper at the Denver Zoo before being fatally shot.
 
 
Zoo officials said later that the zookeeper had violated rules by opening the door to the animal's cage.
 
 
Denver Zoo officials would not "speculate" on the San Francisco attacks.
 
 
Officials said the Denver Zoo undergoes mandatory safety and emergency standards inspections as part of its accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
 
 
"Should any new information regarding tiger enclosures come to light, Denver Zoo, like other accredited zoos, would work closely with the AZA to see if any modifications are necessary," the statement said.
 
 
"Zoos are evolving places and if anything were to be learned that led us to believe that we needed to look at doing some modifications ... we would certainly do that," Denver Zoo spokeswoman Ana Bowie said today.
 
 
Jack Hanna, the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, predicted that other U.S. zoos would reassess their tiger enclosures if it turns out the big cat was able to leap out.
 
 
"This is a first in this country," Hanna told The Associated Press today. "I've never heard of an individual (zoo visitor) being killed by an animal. It's much safer going to a zoo than getting in your car and going down the driveway."
 
 
San Francisco Zoo officials were still uncertain how long Tatiana, who mauled a zookeeper during a public feeding demonstration just before Christmas last year, was loose before police shot her dead.
 
 
Tatiana was one of three cubs delivered by a tiger named Katarina in Denver. Even as a cub she was noted for her "quick-tempered" personality, compared to her more mellow siblings, according to a feature story at the time.
 
 
Yet, Bowie stressed today, "We did not have any incidents with Tatiana," referring to aggression toward staff.
 
 
The three young men who were attacked while visiting the San Francisco Zoo suffered "pretty aggressive bite marks," police spokesman Steve Mannina said.
 
 
The zoo is closed today.
 
 
The two injured men, ages 19 and 23, were upgraded to stable condition today at San Francisco General Hospital after surgery to clean and close their wounds, said surgeon Rochelle Dicker. They suffered deep bites and claw cuts on their heads, necks, arms and hands.
 
 
Dicker said they were shaken up emotionally and would remain hospitalized for the day, but that because of their youth they would make a full recovery.
 
 
The San Francisco Zoo's director of animal care and conservation, Robert Jenkins, could not explain how Tatiana escaped. He said the big cat did not leave through an open door, raising the possibility that the powerful animal leaped out of its exhibit.
 
 
"There was no way out through the door," Jenkins said. "The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leaped out of the enclosure."
 
 
The first attack happened right outside the Siberian's enclosure — the victim died at the scene. A group of four officers came across his body when they entered the dark zoo grounds, Mannina said.
 
 
The second victim was about 300 yards away, in front of the Terrace Cafe. The man was sitting on the ground, blood running from gashes in his head and Tatiana sitting next to him.
 
 
The cat attacked the man again, Mannina said.
 
 
When the officers shouted to distract the tiger, it began approaching police, Fong said.
 
 
Several officers then opened fire with handguns, killing the animal.
 
 
Only then did they see the third victim, who had also been mauled.
 
 
Although no new visitors were let in after 5 p.m. Tuesday, the grounds had not been scheduled to close until an hour later, and 20 to 25 people were still in the zoo when the attacks happened, zoo officials said. Employees and visitors were told to take shelter when zoo officials learned of the attacks.
 
 
"This is a tragic event for San Francisco," Fire Department spokesman Lt. Ken Smith said. "We pride ourselves in our zoo, and we pride ourselves in tourists coming and looking at our city."
 
 
There are five tigers at the zoo — three Sumatrans and two Siberians. Officials initially worried that four tigers had escaped, but soon learned only Tatiana had escaped, Mannina said.
 
 
The Christmas escape eerily echoed a Dec. 22, 2006, mauling at San Francisco's Lion House when Tatiana chewed off part of a zookeeper's arm after the public feeding as about 50 horrified visitors looked on.
 
 
State investigators found that Lori Komejan was attacked after she reached through a drain trough to retrieve an item near the tiger's side of the cage, according to the Chronicle. The tiger reached under the cage bars and grabbed her right arm, but the zookeeper tried to push the tiger away using her other arm, the state report found.
 
 
Both of her arms were under the cage at that point and her face was pressed against the cage bars, according to the report. Another employee grabbed a long-handled squeegee and hit the tiger in the head until it released the injured zookeeper.
 
 
"The tiger ate her hand. It slowly proceeded to eat the rest of her arm," Vikram Chari told the Chronicle, recounting the spectacle that he and his 6-year-old son witnessed.
 
 
California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health blamed the zoo for the assault and imposed a $18,000 penalty. A medical claim filed against the city by the keeper was denied.
 
 
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a statement he was deeply saddened by the latest attack and that a thorough investigation was under way.
 
 
After last year's attack, the zoo added customized steel mesh over the bars, built in a feeding shoot and increased the distance between the public and the cats.
 
 
Siberian tigers are classified as endangered and there are more than 600 of the animals living in captivity worldwide.
 
 
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 
 
© Rocky Mountain News
 
 
 
 


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Human role not ruled out in tiger attack

Human role not ruled out in tiger attack
 
By JORDAN ROBERTSON, Associated Press Writer
 
The big cat exhibit at the San Francisco Zoo was cordoned off as a
crime scene Wednesday as investigators tried to determine whether a
Siberian tiger that killed a visitor escaped from its high-walled pen
on its own or got help from someone, inadvertent or otherwise.
Police shot the 300-pound animal to death after a Christmas Day
rampage that began when the tiger escaped from an enclosure
surrounded by what zoo officials said are an 18-foot wall and a 20-
foot moat. Two brothers who also were visiting the zoo were severely
mauled.
 
Police Chief Heather Fong said the department has opened a criminal
investigation to "determine if there was human involvement in the
tiger getting out or if the tiger was able to get out on its own."
 
Police said they have not ruled anything out, including whether the
escape was the result of carelessness or a deliberate act.
 
Fong said officers were gathering evidence from the tiger's enclosure
as well as accounts from witnesses and others.
 
One zoo official insisted the tiger did not get out through an open
door and must have climbed or leaped out. But Jack Hanna, former
director of the Columbus Zoo and a frequent guest on TV, said such a
leap would be an unbelievable feat, and "virtually impossible."
 
"There's something going on here. It just doesn't feel right to me,"
he said. "It just doesn't add up to me."
 
Instead, he speculated that visitors might have been fooling around
and might have taunted the animal and perhaps even helped it get out
by, say, putting a board in the moat.
 
Ron Magill, a spokesman at the Miami Metro Zoo, said it is unlikely a
zoo tiger could make such a leap, even with a running start.
 
"Captive tigers aren't nearly in the kind of shape that wild tigers
have to be in to survive," he said. He said taunting can definitely
make an animal more aggressive, but "whether it makes it more likely
to get out of an exhibit is purely speculative."
 
The police chief would not comment on whether the animal was taunted.
Sy Montgomery, a naturalist and author whose books include "Spell of
the Tiger," said she thinks such a jump is possible. Not every tiger
could do it, she said, "but like human beings, every creature has its
own amazing athletes."
 
The same tiger, a 4-year-old female named Tatiana, ripped the flesh
off a zookeeper's arm just before Christmas a year ago while the
woman was feeding the animal through the bars. A state investigation
faulted the zoo, which installed better equipment at the Lion House,
where the big cats are kept.
 
Zoo director Manuel Mollinedo said Wednesday that he gave no thought
to destroying Tatiana after the 2006 incident, because "the tiger was
acting as a normal tiger does." As for whether Tatiana showed any
warning signs before Tuesday's attack, Mollinedo said: "She seemed to
be very well-adjusted into that exhibit."
 
It was unclear how long the tiger had been loose before it was
killed. The three visitors were attacked around closing time Tuesday
on the 125-acre zoo grounds. Four officers hunted down and shot the
animal after police got a 911 call from a zoo employee.
 
The zoo has a response team that can shoot animals. But zoo officials
and police described the initial moments after the escape as chaotic.
 
The two injured men, 19- and 23-year-old brothers from San Jose, were
upgraded to stable condition at San Francisco General Hospital after
surgery. They suffered deep bites and claw wounds on their heads,
necks, arms and hands, said Dr. Rochelle Dicker, a surgeon. She said
they were expected to recover fully.
 
The dead visitor was identified as 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. of
San Jose.
 
Sousa's parents, Carlos and Marilza Sousa, choked back tears as they
described their shock over their son's death.
 
"I wish I was sleeping and this was just a bad dream, but it's not,"
Marilza Sousa told The Associated Press at her San Jose home.
They said they learned of their son's death from the coroner's
office, and neither police nor zoo officials had contacted them.
 
"They didn't call, like we lost a dog or a cat. But we do have
questions. How did this happen? This isn't the first time, either,"
Marilza Sousa said.
 
Hanna predicted other U.S. zoos would reassess their tiger enclosures
if it turns out the tiger was able to leap out. He said he never
before heard of a zoo visitor being killed by an animal.
 
"It's much safer going to a zoo than getting in your car and going
down the driveway," he said.
 
The first attack happened right outside the tiger's enclosure — the
victim died at the scene. Another was about 300 yards away, in front
of a cafe. The police chief said the animal was mauling the man, and
when officers yelled at it to stop, it turned toward them and they
opened fire.
 
Only then did they see the third victim, police said.
 
About 20 visitors were in the zoo when the attacks happened about an
hour before the 6 p.m. closing time, officials said. Employees and
visitors were told to take shelter when zoo officials learned of the
attacks, and some employees locked themselves inside buildings as
they had been instructed to do if an animal escaped.
 
There were five tigers at the zoo — three Sumatrans and two
Siberians. Officials initially worried that four of them had gotten
loose.
 
The zoo was closed on Wednesday and will remain closed at least
through Thursday, officials said.
 
Mollinedo said colleagues from other U.S. zoos will be brought in to
help re-evaluate the big cat exhibit.
 
After last year's attack, the state fined the zoo $18,000. The zoo
added customized steel mesh over the bars, built in a feeding chute
and increased the distance between the public and the cats.
 
Tatiana came from the Denver Zoo a few years ago, with officials
hoping she would mate with a male tiger. There are more than 600
endangered Siberian tigers living in captivity worldwide.
 
U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman Jim Rogers said his agency
is looking into the attack for violations of federal animal-welfare
laws.
 
The San Francisco Zoo is as an accredited member in good standing of
the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
 
 
 


For The Tiger
Dee

http://www.bigcatrescue.org
http://www.savethetigerfund.org
http://www.worldwildlife.org/tigers/


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