Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wildlife keeper loses his job for letting girl pose with tiger in cage

Wildlife keeper loses his job for letting girl pose with tiger in 
cage 

Last Updated: 2:51am GMT 28/02/2008

By Tom Peterkin

A WILDLIFE keeper has lost his job at an animal sanctuary for 
allowing children to pose for pictures stroking a tiger inside its 
cage.

The action was taken against Norman Elder, 44, after pictures of a 
young girl petting the 15-year-old Sumatran tiger called Sonya 
appeared on the social networking website Bebo.


His website, Wildlife Northern Ireland, had carried a picture showing 
a young girl bending down and scratching the head of the tiger as Mr 
Elder looked on. By yesterday the image had been removed.

Mr Elder had been running the Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre 
on behalf of the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to 
Animals for two years. He also took care of wolves, snakes, lizards 
and dangerous dogs at the centre.

But he was removed from the facility in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, this 
week after the charity called in police.

Stephen Philpott, of the USPCA, said he was shocked by pictures of 
visitors inside the tiger enclosure and said he had no option but to 
act after it was brought to his attention.

Mr Philpott said: "The premises in question are under the charge of 
the USPCA and we feel that people were exposed to an unacceptable 
level of risk because of what happened.

"We decided that we could not let it go on any longer which is why we 
took the action that we did to regain control of the site." Last 
night Mr Elder - who is licensed to keep dangerous wild animals - 
insisted he had done nothing wrong in letting people be photographed 
with Sonya.

He said: "There is no law against it and at the time I thought that 
the tiger was behaving well enough for someone to go into the 
enclosure with her.

"A tiger is a dangerous animal and there are safety issues involved 
which is why I don't let everyone go in. I don't accept that I have 
done anything wrong.

"Because she was bred in captivity she is not aggressive and the only 
danger is if she decides to play because she's so strong.

"She is unusually docile and doesn't get stressed from being in a 
cage or having contact with humans. She does take to certain people."

Mr Elder has been looking after Sonya - who he considers to be a pet -
for two years. She was among a number of wild cats rescued by the 
USPCA from a house in Omagh. Her enclosure is the former elephant 
compound of an old safari park.

Later, the USPCA unearthed the bodies of four headless lions on the 
sanctuary site. The elderly lions were put down in April because no 
home could be found for them following the closure of the safari park 
a few years ago.

"Apparently lions' heads fetch big money from taxidermists. They are 
also used in some traditional African medicines," said a USPCA 
spokesman. "You have to ask if these animals were disposed of 
properly."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?
xml=/news/2008/02/28/ntiger128.xml

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457


Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:


This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Honolulu Zoo reinforces tiger cage

Honolulu Zoo reinforces tiger cage

Published: Feb. 25, 2008 at 9:39 PM

HONOLULU, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Honolulu officials announced Monday that immediate changes will be made after a Sumatran tiger escaped from its newly built exhibit.

The Honolulu Zoo plans to add springs on holding area doors and an extra fence to add security around Berani, the 8-year-old Sumatran tiger, KITV Honolulu reported.

"The animal exited through here and then he traversed into that holding area and right in through there," city Enterprise Services Director Sidney Quintal said. "As soon as that occurred, the volunteer who was cleaning in the area exited the holding area secured there."

Zoo officials said Berani was in an open area of the zoo for less than five minutes.

Quintal said the zoo plans to add springs to the holding doors to keep them closed "and we're also going to add an additional fence enclosure."


http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2008/02/25/honolulu_zoo_reinforces_tiger_cage/8710/
 



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Monday, February 25, 2008

Tiger’s escape prompts plan for better barricade

Tiger's escape prompts plan for better barricade

By Rosemarie Bernardo
rbernardo@starbulletin.com

City officials are scrambling to construct an extended, fenced enclosure at a Honolulu Zoo exhibit, after Thursday's brief escape by Berani, a 245-pound Sumatran tiger.

"I directed my zoo director this morning to begin immediate preparations to start taking bids," Sidney Quintal, director of the city Department of Enterprise Services, said yesterday. The extended enclosure is expected to be built within weeks.

He also said an investigation into the escape is ongoing.

"I can only apologize to the people of Honolulu for this oversight that is right now centered around human error," Quintal said.

Berani escaped from the new tiger exhibit at about 8:15 a.m. Thursday, 45 minutes before the zoo opened, by walking through two gates that were apparently left unsecured by a zoo keeper.

The male tiger entered a holding area behind the old tiger exhibit where a volunteer, who was cleaning one of the feeding rooms in the area, saw Berani.

"Berani just came walking by like she didn't exist," Quintal said. She exited the holding area, locked the gate and broadcast a "code red" alert via radios.

Zoo officials say the tiger was loose for about five minutes in an area with only a 4-foot fence that it could have jumped over to roam the zoo.

After Berani was contained in the holding area, it took about 15 to 20 minutes to coax him into one of the feeding rooms with a meatball. The brief escape was resolved before the zoo opened to the public at 9 a.m.

Zoo officials believe Berani was looking for Chrissie, a female Sumatran tiger. Both Berani and Chrissie arrived at the Honolulu Zoo from the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in Indiana at the end of November. Both tigers were held in quarantine in the old exhibit and holding area, Quintal said. The new tiger exhibit was built in hopes that Berani and Chrissie will breed again to increase the Sumatran tiger population.

The zoo keeper apparently left the two gates unsecured after he cleaned the new tiger exhibit and headed into another exhibit, Quintal said.

He assured the public that the zoo is still safe and that the error will not affect the zoo's accreditation. The Honolulu Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Quintal said they will notify the association about the error. About 1,000 people visit the zoo daily.

Both the zoo keeper and the volunteer were traumatized by the escape, Quintal said.

The zoo keeper feels extreme guilt for the mistake, Quintal said, describing him as a competent, valuable employee who has worked at the zoo for 10 years.

Quintal said there would be repercussions for the employee, but he did not give any details.

He said the new enclosure will extend about eight to 15 feet from the new exhibit's access area to encase the unmarked path that Berani took to the holding area behind the old exhibit.

City officials also will look into installing tension springs for all gates of predatory exhibits so gates automatically close.

Some organizations, including the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, called for federal officials to investigate the error. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's animal care unit, PETA wrote that the zoo "apparently violated two sections of the Animal Welfare Act dealing with the safe handling of animals and the integrity of the zoo's structures."

Quintal said he did not see the PETA letter. "I take offense to it. It was not an intentional incident. It was a tragic human error that occurred. We take as many precautions as necessary to ensure the health and welfare of these animals," he said.
 
 



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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tiger accidentally let out of habitat

Tiger accidentally let out of habitat

Big cat is quickly corralled after open gates allowed a brief escape from zoo enclosure

A Honolulu Zoo tiger walked out of its enclosure for a brief taste of freedom yesterday morning after a zoo keeper accidentally left two gates open.

Zoo officials are investigating the incident, which happened before the zoo opened and lasted about 10 minutes.

Berani, a 245-pound male Sumatran tiger, left the new tiger enclosure to an open area that is used by staff members and is surrounded by only a 4-foot fence, according to city and zoo officials.

Berani walked into the old tiger enclosure, and an alert zoo volunteer secured the gate behind the animal.

Berani, a 245-pound male Sumatran tiger at the Honolulu Zoo, nudged his way through two unsecured gates and escaped from his enclosure yesterday morning for about five to 10 minutes.

The escape occurred at 8:15 a.m., before the zoo opened to the public at 9:30 a.m., so there was never any threat to the public and no one was injured, city officials said.

A zoo keeper inadvertently left open two gates to the new tiger exhibit while cleaning the enclosures, then left to work on another exhibit.

The 8-year-old tiger strolled from the new exhibit to an old exhibit through an open area meant for zoo staff with a 4-foot fence around it. Berani could have jumped that fence into public areas.

A zoo volunteer was working in that area, but "Berani just walked right past the volunteer" and into an enclosed feeding area, said Sidney Quintal, director of the city Department of Enterprise Services.

Quintal said that fortunately, Berani was tame because he was hand-raised by humans.

The longtime volunteer remained calm and quickly shut the gate, securing Berani inside, Quintal said.

A zoo keeper coaxed Berani from the feeding area with a meatball into one of the bedrooms of the old enclosure, Quintal said.

"She's (the volunteer) to be commended," he said. She sounded the alarm, and a Code Red, meaning a loose animal, was broadcast. The zoo staff responded and prepared with a tranquilizer gun, which was not needed. Had the zoo been open, the staff would have been prepared for more drastic measures.

"This was all attributable to human error," Quintal said, emphasizing that there was nothing wrong with the enclosures or equipment.

The actual time Berani was free was five to 10 minutes, and coaxing him back into the bedroom took an additional 15, he said.

The city is conducting an investigation to see what was mishandled, he said. Quintal said the city will take disciplinary action against the 10-year veteran zoo keeper but will not fire him.

Berani's brief escape yesterday coincided with yesterday's reopening of the San Francisco Zoo's big-cat exhibit. The exhibit was closed after a Siberian tiger named Tatiana escaped Christmas Day, killing one visitor and injuring two.

Brennan said after the San Francisco tiger mauling in December, the Honolulu tiger enclosure, which was dedicated Nov. 19, was inspected. The inspection showed everything proved safe, city spokesman Bill Brennan said.

http://starbulletin.com/2008/02/22/news/story02.html
 



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Big cats return to public view in renovated San Francisco Zoo grottoes

Big cats return to public view in renovated San Francisco Zoo grottoes

FANS OF TIGERS, LIONS WELCOME UPGRADES

By Linda Goldston
Mercury News
Article Launched: 02/22/2008 01:31:27 AM PST

Three-year-old Ryan Drivon stood up in his stroller and tried to get his mother's attention. "Mom, look at the little tiger," he said.

"That's a lion, buddy," Beth Drivon of Redwood City said with a smile. "He's beautiful."

It was back to normal Thursday morning outside the big-cat grotto at the San Francisco Zoo, where parents and children greeted their old friends for the first time since a Christmas Day tiger attack left a San Jose teenager dead. Drivon and Ryan were the first members of the public to see the lions and tigers at the zoo's newly renovated outdoor grottoes. The big cats had been kept inside since Tatiana the tiger somehow escaped and attacked the teen and two of his friends.

Fans of Tony the tiger, Tatiana's former companion, Kimani the lion and all the others had counted the days until they could visit them in their outdoor playgrounds again. A heavy downpour for much of the day kept the number of visitors to a few at a time - there were 220 throughout the day. Many seemed to approve of the changes.

"I never felt myself or my kids were in danger," Drivon said. "I always felt safe here, but I think what they've done is great. More zoos should take the precautions."

It is still unknown how Tatiana got out of one of the grottoes before police shot her dead. Two days after the Christmas attack, the zoo announced the front wall around Tatiana's enclosure was 4 feet lower than industry standards. Attorneys for Carlos Sousa Jr., who was killed in the attack, and brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, who were injured, blame the zoo; the zoo contends the three friends provoked the tiger. Police suspended their investigation without any charges, and no lawsuits have been filed.

To prevent an escape of a big cat in the future, the zoo extended the concrete moat walls of the grottoes 4 feet to meet the national guidelines of 16 feet, 4 inches. A glass wall and fencing was placed on top of that to extend the barriers to 19 feet, and hot wires run along the moat wall.

"That will make sure they don't even think about getting out," said Bob Jenkins, director of animal care and conservation at the zoo.

Other changes were made as well but the biggest difference for the public: glass walls, where there had been a railing. But no one seemed to mind it.

"You can see very well," said Cecilia Boyer, who runs a day care center near the zoo and brought three of her young charges for a visit Thursday. "It was dangerous before, especially for the kids, who like to climb."

Boyer called out the animals' names for the children as she moved from grotto to grotto, pushing 2-year-old Francesca in a plastic-covered stroller for the rain.

"Look, here's Tony" the tiger, Boyer said to the children.

"We love the tigers," the little boy with her said.

All morning, the big cats performed as if on cue, oblivious to the rain smacking the pavement, splashing onto the new glass walls of their grottoes.

Five-year-old Jahari, an African lion with a striking mane, sat perched on the edge of a ledge in his grotto, while his mate, Amanzi, sat underneath a concrete overhang near the door to the grotto, away from the rain. Tony the tiger let out some roars at mid-morning, with Jahari joining in. Zoo officials hope to have a new companion for 16-year-old Tony soon. He's past breeding age but loved to touch noses and cuddle with Tatiana.

George the tiger was the spunkiest. He splashed in his pool, threw a crumpled paper bag into the air and then raced around the shrubbery like a house cat streaking down the hall.

The big cats have come through the tragedy so well the zoo has decided to resume letting the public watch its eight lions and tigers have their afternoon meal. That begins at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Several visitors mentioned Tatiana on Thursday, though no one thinks she will be forgotten. Parts of a memorial to her are still on display in the zoological society's membership office.

"I'm sorry," someone named Jesse wrote in a note, "and I'll be thinking of you."

Someone else left a bag of feline Greenie treats and a card signed by Emma and Jack attached to a black and white striped teddy bear.

"Tatiana, we will miss you," it said, with XXOO's at the end. Hugs and kisses.
 



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Friday, February 22, 2008

San Francisco Zoo to restart public viewing of big cats on Thursday

San Francisco Zoo to restart public viewing of big cats on Thursday

By Linda Goldston
Mercury News
Article Launched: 02/20/2008 01:53:10 PM PST

It's been a long wait for their fans but Tony the Tiger, Kimani the lion and the rest of the big cat crew at the San Francisco Zoo will be back on display Thursday.

Even Padang, the 18-year-old Sumatran tiger who is the oldest of the zoo's big cats, will get her turn in the renovated outdoor grottoes. Padang has been in a separate exhibit while she recovered from hip surgery.

The big cats were stuck indoors after Tatiana, a Siberian tiger, escaped from her grotto on Christmas Day and fatally mauled Carlos Sousa Jr. and injured Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, all of San Jose.

After $1.7 million in safety upgrades to the grottoes and a successful re-introduction of the animals to their modified outdoor playgrounds, a zoo official said the big cats will be back on
public display Thursday rain or shine, beginning at 10 a.m.

During the re-acclimation period, "One of them, I believe it was George the tiger, went outside and came right back in," said Paul Garcia, zoo spokesman. "He could care less the outdoor exhibit is open."

Zoo keepers worked hard to challenge the four lions and four tigers mentally and physically while they were confined inside. They got new toys - from treats hidden in paper bags to large plastic garbage cans to chew on - and had their digs spiced up with such delectable smells as Rhino urine and cheap perfume.

http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_8315894
 



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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SF Zoo's big cat grotto may open soon for public viewing

SF Zoo's big cat grotto may open soon for public viewing

Cecilia M. Vega, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, February 18, 2008

(02-18) 18:21 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- After being in quarantine since the fatal Christmas Day tiger mauling, the big cats at the San Francisco Zoo were let back into their newly renovated digs over the holiday weekend and promptly did what all cats like to do: they lazily sniffed around, showed signs of indifference and then laid down and went to sleep.

The behavior cheered zookeepers, who said if the four lions and three tigers keep it up, they will be back on public display by the end of the week.

"You never know how animals like this are going to react to the changes," said Bob Jenkins, the zoo's director of animal care and conservation.

On Monday, news reporters and photographers were invited for the first time to the view the renovations and the cats. Zoo officials hoped the visit would help the lions and tigers become accustomed to seeing visitors after being kept behind closed doors for so long.

"It's kind of like they're in a strange house," Jenkins said as he watched the tigers and lions sniff around their enclosures and mark their territory. "You're just not sure where you can and can't sit down."

The cats have lived in cages behind their grotto since Christmas, when the Siberian tiger named Tatiana escaped from her enclosure and killed a 17-year-old San Jose boy and seriously injured his two friends.

Since then, workers have raised the concrete moat walls surrounding the tiger enclosure from 12.6 feet high to 16.4 feet high in order to meet the minimum height recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the agency that accredits zoos around the country.

Glazing and fencing have also been added to the top of the walls, raising the barriers to 19 feet tall. Hot wire, which emits electric shocks to animals that contact it, was installed along the moat walls to keep the tigers and lions, two species that must be housed separately, from leaping out of their enclosures.

While in quarantine, zookeepers stimulated the cats by giving them toys to play with and showing them nature videos, including the Disney movie, "The Lion King."

They also used techniques to appeal to the cats' senses while they were locked up, including giving them hay that contained a variety of scents from other animals. But hay scented with cheap perfume proved to be the overwhelming favorite, Jenkins said.
Tatiana's mate, Tony, who was in the grotto when the 250-pound female tiger escaped in December and was shot and killed by police, lounged in his grotto alone Monday.

But that may not be the case for very long. Zoo officials said Monday they are hoping to find another mate for him.

"I do believe he senses that his companion is not there," said Jacqueline Jencek, the zoo's chief of veterinary services.

In addition to the taller walls, zoo officials plan to replace temporary fencing materials near the lion and tiger enclosures with stainless steel wire mesh by sometime in March. They also want to install video surveillance cameras to monitor dangerous animals, as well as visitors.

The upgrades will cost the city about $1 million, city officials have said.
Last month the San Francisco Police Department suspended its investigation into the tiger attack after finding no evidence that the three victims taunted the animal or committed other crimes.

The attack killed Carlos Sousa Jr. His friends, brothers Paul Dhaliwal, 19, and Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23, were hospitalized for several days with claw and bite wounds to their heads and upper bodies. The tiger was fatally shot by police.

According to a police search warrant, Paul Dhaliwal told Sousa's father that prior to the attack the three young men had yelled and waved at the tiger while standing atop the railing that previously separated zoo visitors from the exhibit. Dhaliwal, however, has denied throwing anything into the enclosure or antagonizing the animal which is against city law.

Zoo officials maintain that something unusual happened in order to provoke Tatiana out of her grotto.

In recent weeks, some local animal rights activists have criticized the zoo, saying officials are so focused on making structural improvements and visitor safety that the animals have been neglected.

Last week, the Mill Valley-based In Defense of Animals showed a video to San Francisco's Animal Control and Welfare Commission during a hearing at City Hall, accusing zoo officials of allowing animals to pace in their pens and swim in their own waste.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/18/MNPRV4OV8.DTL
 



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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Inside at San Francisco Zoo: a look at tigers, lions since fatal mauling

Inside at San Francisco Zoo: a look at tigers, lions since fatal mauling

By Linda Goldston
Mercury News
Article Launched: 02/16/2008 05:39:09 PM PST


The big cats pace rhythmically, their amber eyes riveted to the target. Tails swish, low growls rumble from their throats. Back and forth, back and forth.

Kimani, a 5-year-old African lion, attacks first. The 350-pound cat reared up on her hind legs and ripped away with her front paws. Today's prey: a giant roll of paper towels.

Quickly, she hunkered to the ground when Tunya, her 450-pound father, lunged into the cage. With one mighty swipe, he tried to knock the roll from its rope. No luck. Temporarily spent, Tunya turned for a drink of water, then sauntered back to the adjacent cage and sank down for a nap.

It's been like this for almost two months, ever since Christmas Day, when a Siberian tiger escaped its grotto and fatally mauled a 17-year-old San Jose man and injured two others. For 54 days, while their outdoor enclosure is being renovated, the big cats at the San Francisco Zoo have been stuck indoors - and out of public view - like giant, precocious children kept inside on a rainy day.

Animal keepers responsible for the big cats have had their own challenges - keeping the zoo's four lions and four tigers entertained and challenged, mentally and physically. Every day, they come up with a new game, a new routine, a new toy that might amuse the cats one day, bore them the next.

On Friday, the zoo keepers gave a Mercury News' reporter a behind-the-scenes look.

They've improvised toys for chewing, such as large plastic garbage cans and beef bones hidden in paper bags. They've shown the cats wildlife movies and documentaries, and all four lions and tigers seemed to enjoy them at first.

But Leanne, a 4-year-old Sumatran tiger, emerged as the only real movie fan. Disney's "Lion King" is her favorite, but she also didn't turn away for a second when she watched a documentary about elephant seals. The TV is kept just across from her cage.

All kinds of spices and smells - from human perfumes to urine from other animals - are sprinkled in straw or dripped on the cats' favorite chew toys.

"Rhino bedding has been a big hit," said Barbara Palmer, primary keeper of the big cats. That's straw the rhino marked or urinated on, straw the big cats love to smell and roll in. "They can tell a lot of things from urine that we can't come close to telling."

It's easier to keep the lions happy indoors. But the zoo keepers have worked extra hard to keep the cats entertained, because they have more stimulation when they are allowed to come-and-go outside.

"I was worried the cats would be very anxious, but we're not seeing that," said Jacqueline Jencke, chief of veterinary services for the zoo.

Zoo officials are waiting for the day the big cats can return to their outdoor play areas with rocks to climbs and people to watch.

Workers are finishing up renovations on the outdoor grottoes, but zoo officials still couldn't say late last week when they would re-open. A higher wall, new glass barriers and electrified wires are being added, steps some critics say might have prevented Tatiana the tiger from escaping the grotto. The grotto's wall for years was 4 feet lower than national guidelines, but will now be the recommended 16.4 feet.

San Francisco police suspended their investigation late last month into whether the three San Jose men - Carlos Sousa Jr., who was killed, and brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal - taunted Tatiana before she escaped. Police shot and killed the tiger after the attacks.

Tony, Tatiana's 16-year-old companion, is alone now, the only Siberian tiger left at the zoo. Keepers affectionately call him "our scaredy cat." He won't step on the scales or lie on a bench, as the other cats have been trained to do. During Friday's tour, he was noticeably quiet and resisted playing with his new plastic garbage can. It isn't clear, though, if he misses Tatiana. Tigers are less social than lions, the keepers say, but Tony interacts through a wire mesh door with the Sumatran pair, Leanne and George.

As Palmer, 41, bustled around, the big cats had on their "kitchen faces." They always hope she'll walk back to them with a treat, she said.

The keepers also have been teaching the animals to voluntarily lie down on a wooden bench, where they get treats for putting their noses on a target. It's training that allows them to be vaccinated or have blood samples taken without first being shot with a dart gun.

Leanne readily assumed the pose on Friday afternoon, the treat disappeared in a flash. She circled the bench again and lay down, hoping for one more treat.

Seven of the cats are housed in a long, large room that's usually open during public feedings, but those have been postponed during the renovations. Padang, a Sumatran tiger born in 1989, the oldest of the zoo's big cats, is kept in a separate exhibit.

"People come into this space with all kinds of expectations," Palmer said. To the cats, "it's just another room in the house, both a dining room and an entertainment center."

On Friday, the cats peered out of their cages, calmly studying the two new faces - a reporter and photographer - accompanying their keeper and doctor.

George shattered the silence with a quick lunge to the bars and a deep roar. Just as fast he chuffed, the soft sound big cats make when they're content.

"He's a young adult male and he's still trying to figure out how to assert himself," Palmer said.

For all the huff, George is the bathing king. He loves to soak in the bathtub, resting his big head on the edge of the tub.

For much of the day, the big cats sleep, moving around when darkness falls. And for some reason, every day at about 4:50 p.m., all of the lions roar.

Some day soon, the doors to the grottoes will slide open. But the keepers don't expect the cats to go charging outside.

They're getting so much attention inside, Palmer said. "I can bet money, which ones will come right back in."

http://origin.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_8283541#
 



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Friday, February 15, 2008

Tiger mauls sanctuary volunteer

Tiger mauls sanctuary volunteer

From WTSP Tampa Bay 10
DAVENPORT - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators have charged 51 year old Darrell Atkinson of Davenport with keeping a tiger in a substandard cage.

The charge and three related warning citations are the result of a Feb. 9 tiger attack on Brenda Chapman, who worked as a volunteer at the Horseshoe Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, founded by Atkinson. According to investigators, Ms. Chapman was cleaning the tiger's cage when the animal mauled her left leg and right hand.

The attack occurred when Atkinson was out of state and reportedly had left unqualified workers in charge of the facility. In addition to the caging violations, a culpable negligence charge against Atkinson is pending in the State Attorney's office. After the attack, FWC investigators conducted a full inspection of the sanctuary and found a tiger in a 13 x 13-foot cage, constructed of 11-gauge wire with no safety entrance (which would enable workers to enter and exit the cage with minimum safety hazards). The state requirement is for tigers to have 10 x 24-foot cages, constructed of 9-gauge wire and a safety entrance.

Read More From WTSP Tampa Bay 10

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition here:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/344896451?ltl=1140270431

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.



Monday, February 11, 2008

Palm Beach Zoo worker's mistake may have invited tiger bite

Palm Beach Zoo worker's mistake may have invited tiger bite
 
By Kimberly Miller
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2008

WEST PALM BEACH — Florida Fish and Wildlife investigators believe a handler at the Palm Beach Zoo may be to blame for getting nipped Sunday by Mata, one of two rare Malayan tigers at the zoo.

Officer Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said zoo keeper Susie Nuttall was using treats to train Mata, but she used her fingers to extend the treat instead of holding her palm flat with the treat on it.

Mata nipped the tip of Nuttall's middle finger. Although zoo officials said the injury was minor and that no part of the finger was actually removed, a hand surgeon was called in to repair the damage.

"It was a very minor deviation from protocol," said Pino, who added that no charges will be filed against Nuttall or the zoo. "It was just a mistake."

Nuttall has been at the Palm Beach Zoo for eight months and had a year's worth of experience prior to that, Pino said.

The incident happened after the 5 p.m. closing time in the zoo's night holding facility, said spokeswoman Gail Eaton.

The tiger was being fed through an opening in a steel cage, and there were two keepers in the room when the accident happened, according to zoo officials.

A zoo employee drove the woman to Good Samaritan for the injury to the tip of her middle finger on her right hand. She was later taken to St. Mary's Medical Center, where she is today.

Zoo officials will review policies and procedures, Eaton said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were also notified of the incident.

The zoo does not allow trainers to go into the tiger cages, and all contact is considered "protected" contact, said Keith Lovett, director of living collections at the zoo.

The incident occurred in a nighttime facility where the tigers are taken for protection. The tigers are rewarded when they go into the facility with food. They also get rewards when they perform specific behaviors that can be helpful in veterinary procedures, such as opening their mouths and showing their paws.

"She was following procedures, as far as we can tell," Eaton said.

Lovett said he believed the trainer would be released from the hospital this afternoon.
The zoo has two tigers, brothers Rimba and Mata, who were born at the San Diego Zoo and arrived here in December 2006. Mata is 2 years and 8 months old.

Mata, Lovett said, is calmer than his brother and interacts more with keepers.
"The tiger wasn't being vicious," Lovett said. "He was just trying to get a treat."

The last tiger incident at a zoo happened on Christmas Day, when a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo escaped and killed one of that zoo's patrons.

Mata is on display today.

"I'm sure he's completely unaware he caused all this furor," Eaton said.

Feb 11, 2008 4:44 PM Link to this
While I am not a proponent of zoos, I have visited the Bronx Zoo and witnessed sessions where it is shown how they reward the tigers with food for actions performed when they need to be checked for medical reasons, etc. They did not reward them with the food by hand, it was placed on the end of a long stick and fed through the fencing. Maybe this is a policy the Palm Beach Zoo should adopt.
 
This incident was caused by the error of the zookeeper; the tiger, once again, is not to blame. These animals did not ask to be in captivity; but unfortunately there are zoos, and the responsibility lies within the zoo's staff and management to insure the safety and care of these animals as well as the safety of the public.
 
As to the comment posted by Joe on Feb 11, 2008 2:24 PM:
It is your choice not to go to this zoo, but I find your comment suggesting the tiger be put down because of this incident extreme. Once again, human error is to blame, not the tiger.
 
Link: TIGER NEWS



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Tiger at Palm Beach Zoo nips, hospitalizes worker during feeding

Tiger at Palm Beach Zoo nips, hospitalizes worker during feeding

By South Florida Sun-Sentinel and staff report

Originally published 07:15 a.m., February 11, 2008
Updated 08:16 a.m., February 11, 2008

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Palm Beach Zoo worker on Sunday was taken
to the hospital after a Malayan tiger bit the employee's hand during
a feeding, according to reports obtained by WPTV NewsChannel 5.

The incident happened about 5 p.m. Sunday after the zoo closed. Two
employees were attempting to feed the tiger in a "night house" that
is not visible to zoo visitors when the big cat bit, or "nipped," one
of the fingers of one employee's hand, according to NewsChannel 5.

Two workers were feeding the tiger processed beef when the incident
happened.

A zoo spokesperson told the news station the injured employee was
driven a local hospital for treatment by another zoo employee.

The injured employee has worked there for eight months. Information
about how long the tiger has been at the zoo was not available.

No further information was released

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2008/feb/11/tiger-palm-beach-zoo-nips-hospitalizes-worker-duri/?partner=yahoo

http://www.bigcatrescue.org
 



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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tiger Claws Volunteer at Horseshoe Creek

Tiger Claws Volunteer at Horseshoe Creek

The Ledger

Published: Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tiger Claws Volunteer at Davenport Sanctuary

Injuries aren't serious, county agency says.
By Shoshana Walter 

DAVENPORT | It's not what he needed.

That's what Darryl Atkinson said as he spoke of the latest incident at his Horseshoe Creek Wildlife Foundation in Davenport. About noon today, a volunteer was clawed by a tiger while cleaning out its cage, said Gary Morse of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The injuries were not serious, according to Polk County Fire and EMS, and Atkinson said the volunteer, Brenda Chapman of Kissimmee, would be "just fine."

The commission's investigation is ongoing, Morse said.

"We don't know what caused it. Whether it was playing or it was actually going after her leg," he said.

Atkinson said the tiger, named Kheira, was playing. Chapman, a trained volunteer, got swiped when she stepped too close, he said.

The incident comes on the heels of Atkinson's Feb. 1 arrest on charges of grand theft and signing a forged instrument. The commission said it found Atkinson accepting money from people on court-ordered probation in exchange for signing off on community service work they did not do. Atkinson stepped down Feb. 2 as president of Horseshoe Creek, which he founded.

He said he expects the commission to send him a citation for Saturday's incident, review Kheira's medical history and put her in quarantine.

Morse said a citation is possible.

"That's just not what I need with all this other stuff," Atkinson said.

Although the foundation has long been plagued by funding problems, he said he intends to keep the sanctuary open. Atkinson said he has too many animals to care for and is working on relocating some of them. He said he has already relocated at least five big cats in two years. 

http://www.theledger.com/article/20080209/BREAKING/547594689

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition here:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/344896451?ltl=1140270431

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.



Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tiger Claws Volunteer at Davenport Sanctuary

Tiger Claws Volunteer at Davenport Sanctuary

Injuries aren't serious, county agency says.

Published: Saturday, February 9, 2008
By Shoshana Walter

DAVENPORT
It's not what he needed.

That's what Darryl Atkinson said as he spoke of the latest incident at his Horseshoe Creek Wildlife Foundation in Davenport. About noon today, a volunteer was clawed by a tiger while cleaning out its cage, said Gary Morse of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The injuries were not serious, according to Polk County Fire and EMS, and Atkinson said the volunteer, Brenda Chapman of Kissimmee, would be "just fine."

The commission's investigation is ongoing, Morse said.

"We don't know what caused it. Whether it was playing or it was actually going after her leg," he said.

Atkinson said the tiger, named Kheira, was playing. Chapman, a trained volunteer, got swiped when she stepped too close, he said.

The incident comes on the heels of Atkinson's Feb. 1 arrest on charges of grand theft and signing a forged instrument. The commission said it found Atkinson accepting money from people on court-ordered probation in exchange for signing off on community service work they did not do. Atkinson stepped down Feb. 2 as president of Horseshoe Creek, which he founded.

He said he expects the commission to send him a citation for Saturday's incident, review Kheira's medical history and put her in quarantine.

Morse said a citation is possible.

"That's just not what I need with all this other stuff," Atkinson said.

Although the foundation has long been plagued by funding problems, he said he intends to keep the sanctuary open. Atkinson said he has too many animals to care for and is working on relocating some of them. He said he has already relocated at least five big cats in two years.

http://www.theledger.com/article/20080209/BREAKING/547594689
 



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Thursday, February 07, 2008

SF Zoo raises height of lion and tiger exhibit walls

SF Zoo raises height of lion and tiger exhibit walls
Patricia Yollin, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

(02-06) 19:10 PST San Francisco -- The San Francisco Zoo announced today that it has completed the first phase of improvements to its four big-cat grottos, which have been closed since a lethal Christmas Day attack in which a Siberian tiger named Tatiana killed one patron and mauled his two friends before being shot dead by police.

The concrete moat walls, which were 12 1/2 feet high, have been extended to 16.4 feet, meeting the minimum guidelines of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Glazing and fencing on top of the walls has raised the height of the barriers to 19 feet. Hot wire, which emits electric shocks to animals that come in contact with it, has been installed along the moat walls.

Other additions include a storm sewer, irrigation system, and new paving and landscaping. Meanwhile, trees, vines and other vegetation in and around the grottos has been removed.

The second phase, scheduled for completion sometime in March, includes replacing temporary fencing materials with stainless steel wire mesh and installing hot wire along the finger walls of the grottos.

Zoo officials haven't decided when the grottos will reopen because they said its inhabitants will need time to adjust to the upgrades.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/06/BAFCUTNI7.DTL&feed=rss.news


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4 who shot tiger may get medals

4 who shot tiger may get medals

John Koopman
Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Four San Francisco police officers have been recommended for medals of valor for fatally shooting the tiger that escaped from its zoo enclosure on Christmas Day, killing one teen and injuring two of his friends.

Sgt. Neville Gittens, a police spokesman, said the recommendation will go to the Police Commission, a screening committee and then an awards committee to determine what, if any, recognition should go to officers Yukio Oshita, Scott Biggs, Kevin O'Leary and Daniel Kroos.

The recognition could range from letters of recommendation to medals of valor, either gold, silver or bronze.

Chief Heather Fong has mentioned the recommendation to the commission, saying the officers performed courageously in a situation for which they were not trained.

The officers arrived at the San Francisco Zoo in two teams, one plainclothes and one uniformed. They came upon a horrific scene in which one man was already dead and the tiger was attacking a second victim. Authorities have said the officers fired their .40-caliber semiautomatic handguns to kill the tiger.



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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fisherman killed by tiger in Satkhira

Fisherman killed by tiger in Satkhira
 
UNB, Satkhira

A fisherman was killed in an attack by a tiger when he was catching fishes at Chuna River in Sundarbans Saturday.

The deceased was identified as Shahjahan Morol, 55, resident of Burigoalini village in Shyamnagar thana.

Local forest department said a tiger swooped on Morol and took him away at about 9:30am when he was catching fishes at Barakel canal deep inside Sundarbans.
 
 
 
 



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Friday, February 01, 2008

Teacher survives attack by 400lb lion, claiming 'it was only playing'

Teacher survives attack by 400lb lion, claiming 'it was only playing'

By JULIE MOULT - More by this author »Last updated at 18:20pm on 1st February 2008

Comments Comments

A British teacher's trip to Africa turned to horror - when a lion leapt on her from behind and clamped its jaws round her head.

As she was dragged to the ground, Kate Drew screamed in pain as the animal's teeth sank into her.

To add to her terror, two other lions were prowling not far away, waiting to pounce.

Luckily, tour guides were nearby and they tackled the 400lb animal, wrestling it away from her and saving her from more serious injury or death.

Scroll down for more...


Kate Drew sits alongside the lions before they turned on her in the savannahs of Zimbabwe


She was left needing 13 stitches in bite wounds - but it is thought the lion may simply have mistaken her for a playmate, because of her mane-like long blonde hair.

"I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm a goner'", said 28-year-old Miss Drew, from Hornchurch, Essex.

"I was scared enough when the lion pinned me to the ground, but when I looked up and saw the other two, I really thought I'd had it."

The primary school headmistress had been working as a volunteer teacher in Tanzania since last September and was spending a few weeks travelling across Africa on a bus with other backpackers.

As part of the trip, they visited a project where lions are bred to be released back into the wild.

Tourists are able to walk with several of the big cats which are considered tame enough to be allowed close contact with humans.

Scroll down for more...

Kate Drew

Kate Drew with bandaged head puts on a brave face after the attack


"I was a bit apprehensive, but we were just leaving and everything seemed to have gone well until this one lion jumped at me from behind," said Miss Drew.

Her 57-year-old mother, Carole, said: "She didn't tell me about it at first, because she didn't want to worry me or her father.

"I couldn't believe it when she told me what had happened. I was pretty shocked. She had told me that she planned to go walking with these lions and I said then that I didn't think it was a very good idea.

"At the first hospital, they didn't have a doctor, so they took her to a second hospital where they stitched her up.

Scroll down for more...

Kate Drew

Kate Drew walks alongside the lions in the baking sun


"She said it was very painful - she's had the stitches out and her head is still very sore.

"They said it had never happened before. They think that because she's got long, blonde hair the lion thought she was a playmate, another lion."

Her father Colin, a 57-year-old retired oil trader added: "My first reaction was to laugh. It all sounded so unbelievable.

"It all happened so quickly, but she was very, very lucky. However, she has an adventurous nature and it won't put her off."

Miss Drew was yesterday flying out on her latest expedition - to work with disabled children in an orphanage in Peru.


For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org MakeADifference@BigCatRescue.org

Sign our petition here:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/344896451?ltl=1140270431

This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be
confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended
only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above.  You are hereby
notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of
the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The
recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused
by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.