Tiger victim linked to security guard at Calgary zoo
By Deborah Tetley and Sherri Zickefoose, Calgary Herald
October 6, 2009 8:02 PM
CALGARY — The man mauled by a tiger at the Calgary Zoo is the common-law husband of a security guard who was working the night he and a friend scaled a fence and snuck up to the cat’s enclosure, according to a police source.
Meanwhile, investigators said criminal charges will be laid soon, to the delight of many zoo visitors Tuesday who said the 27-year-old intruder deserves to be punished for the overnight escapade.
“He should be charged for breaking into the zoo and for jumping the fence and for bothering the tiger,” said Lorita Sonnenberg.
“He was asking for trouble and he obviously got it, but no one can blame the tiger, because he was following his instincts.”
The man is recovering in hospital with serious claw and bite marks to both arms after being snared by a two-year-old Siberian tiger Monday shortly after 1 a.m. local time.
The man’s friend, also 27, was not seriously injured in the incident.
Zoo officials and police said the motive remains a mystery.
Break and enter, as well as trespassing charges, could be laid in coming days, police said.
The men broke into the zoo after hours by hopping a fence, according to Calgary police. The men scaled the zoo’s 2.4-metre fence, just north of the west public gate. Once inside, they scaled another fence designed to keep the public at a safe distance from the Siberian tiger enclosure.
One man was standing near the pen’s second fence that keeps the cats secure. That’s when the two-year-old male tiger, Vitali, snared his arm through the wires, biting and swiping at him.
The injured man’s friend managed to free him and the pair scrambled to safety.
They called the personal cellphone of the victim’s common-law spouse, who was on duty at the zoo as a security guard, according to the police source.
She raced to their aid and the man was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
Police said they have not interviewed the victim because he remains sedated in hospital.
Zoo officials said they will review security, but noted keeping determined intruders out is difficult.
Despite the victim’s severe injuries, zoo visitors showed no mercy.
“He shouldn’t even be compensated by Calgarians or the zoo for his medical bills,” said Carlin Anquist.
“This was his choice and he needs to pay the consequences for messing with a wild and dangerous animal,” said the 23-year-old.
“I feel a bit sorry for the guy because he got hurt, but there is a fence there for a reason.”