Man killed as zoo tiger goes on Christmas rampage |Richard_F||01/17/08 at 11:12:59|richard_f|xx|0||Man killed as zoo tiger goes on Christmas rampage for second time
(San Francisco Zoo/AP)
Tatiana, the tiger that escaped from its enclosure


James Bone in New York
Police investigating the killing of one man and the mauling of two others by a rare Siberian tiger at San Francisco Zoo suggested last night that the animal may have had human help to escape.

The tigress, named Tatiana, got out of her moated enclosure on Christmas Day. She was shot dead by police.

The attack came almost exactly a year after the 300lb (136kg) beast mauled a keeper’s arm through the bars during a public feeding session.

Police declared the zoo a crime scene yesterday so that they could investigate whether anyone had helped Tatiana to escape.

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“The purpose of the criminal investigation is to see if the tiger was able to get out on its own or whether there was human involvement,” San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong said.

Alerted by frantic emergency calls, police armed with shotguns cordoned off the zoo shortly before closing time on Tuesday and scoured the densely populated area around it with helicopters in case other tigers had escaped from their pen.

Tatiana was discovered by four officers with one of her bloodied, but still alive, victims.

“When the officers first approached this other victim in front of the café, the tiger was sitting right next to the victim. As the officers approached, the tiger continued its attack,” Sergeant Steve Mannina, a police spokesman, said.

“As the officers moved even closer, the tiger focused its attention on the officers and started coming towards the officers. That is when the officers fired.”

Siberian tigers are an endangered species, with fewer than 400 surviving in the remote forests of Russia’s Sikhote-Alin mountain range, east of the Amur River. Another 600 are kept in captivity.

Four-year-old Tatiana was moved to San Francisco Zoo from Denver in the hope that she would mate with a male called Tony.

The tigress lived with Tony and three Sumatran tigers in outdoor enclosures, kept away from the public by a 4½meter (15ft) wide moat.

New safety features were added to the compound after Tatiana chewed flesh from a keeper’s arm three days before Christmas last year. Lori Komejan was mauled in front of horrified spectators during a public feeding session as she reached through a drain to retrieve an object from Tatiana’s cage.

Pinned to the cage bars, Ms Komejan escaped only when a colleague grabbed a mop and hit the tiger on the head until she let go.

A state investigation found that the tiger cages were configured in a way that made it possible for Tatiana to reach under the bars to bite the keeper. The zoo made improvements that cost $250,000 (£126,000), including adding steel mesh to the bars and increasing the distance between the big cats and the public, before resuming public feedings in September.

Officials were at a loss to explain how Tatiana escaped at about 5.15pm local time as about two dozen visitors wandered through the zoo.

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Robert Jenkins, the zoo’s director of animal care, said that he was astounded by Tatiana’s escape. “There was no way out through the door,” he said. “The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leapt out of the enclosure.”

The young man killed was identified last night as Carlos Sousa Junior, aged 17. He was found just outside Tatiana’s enclosure. The two other victims, aged 19 and 23, were attacked near the zoo’s open-air terrace café 275 metres away.

Both survivors were taken to San Francisco General Hospital for surgery. Local reports said that one had suffered puncture wounds to the chest as well as lacerations in the back of his head and claw marks on his legs. The other victim had cuts to his head and back.

“They are talking. They are alert. Their vital signs are stable at this time,” Eric Isaacs, the supervising doctor, said. “The wounds are being repaired, sewn back together, and we expect them to be fine.”

The zoo remained shut yesterday as officials scoured the scene for clues. Police refused to rule out the possibility of criminal conduct.

“We don’t know how it was able to get out,” Mr Jenkins told reporters. “The tiger should not have been able to jump [out].”

Fatal attraction

— A man was killed by two Bengal tigers at a zoo in Assam, northeast India, this month. He had jumped a barricade and put his arm through the bars to take a photograph

— In February a girl aged 6 was killed by a tiger at the Kunming Zoo in Yunnan province, China, after being urged to pose beside it, unprotected, for a photograph

— Last year a drunk man was mauled by a panda at Beijing Zoo after attempting to hug it

— In 2003 a US soldier shot dead a Bengal tiger at Baghdad Zoo after it bit a fellow serviceman who had reached into its cage to feed it

— A lioness at Kiev Zoo, Ukraine, killed a man last year who climbed into the enclosure and shouted, ‘God will save me, if he exists’

||01/17/08 at 11:13:48|richard_f Re: Man killed as zoo tiger goes on Christmas ramp|Richard_F||02/22/08 at 01:30:39|richard_f|xx|0||Zoo animals endure regular taunting, experts say
Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 01/18/2008 11:27:26 PM CST

SAN FRANCISCO - Police believe the three people mauled by a tiger
Christmas Day yelled and waved at the cat from atop a railing before it
lunged at them, but experts say that's only a notch up from the type of
taunting animals regularly endure at the nation's zoos.

One study concluded that as many as one in four zoo visitors razz animals
in some way, and large predators like tigers are a prime target.

Paul Dhaliwal, one of the two surviving victims, told the father of the
teenager killed in the attack that while the three climbed the 3-foot
railing and tried to get the tiger's attention, they never threw or
dangled anything into the pen, according to a search warrant affidavit
filed late Thursday.

Dhaliwal, 19, was severely injured when the 250-pound Siberian tiger named
Tatiana clawed its way up the wall of its enclosure, leapt out and mauled
him. His brother, Kulbir, 24, was also injured, and their friend,
17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., was killed.

The tiger "may have been taunted/agitated by its eventual victims,"
Inspector Valerie Matthews wrote in the affidavit. Police believe "this
factor contributed to the tiger escaping from its enclosure and attacking
its victims," she wrote.

All three victims had marijuana in their systems, and Paul Dhaliwal's
blood-alcohol level was 0.16 - twice the legal limit for driving,
according to the affidavit.

"Clearly, there's the lesson to be learned here," said zoo spokesman Sam
Singer. "The lesson is that it's not a good idea to drink, it's not a good
idea to be high on dope, and it's not a good idea to taunt a man-eating

Authorities were weighing whether to seek criminal charges against the
Dhaliwals, but their lawyer, Mark Geragos, said they have presented no
evidence of a crime. Geragos, who has repeatedly said the brothers didn't
taunt the tiger, also noted the affidavit does not specify any possible

"Basically, they're arguing that if you go to the zoo and wave at the
animals, you get the death penalty," he said. "And that's just nonsense."

Some animal behaviorists said Friday the visitors' alleged actions would
not exonerate the zoo or its accrediting agency, the Association of Zoos
and Aquariums.

"Taunting or not, I just think it's incumbent on the AZA and the zoos to
have taunt-proof cages," said wildlife biologist Marc Bekoff, a professor
emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of
Colorado, Boulder. "If you are going to have an animal like a Siberian
tiger or other predators, you have to protect the public."

Bekoff said taunting is common at zoos. He said students in his animal
behavior courses during the 1990s found that 20 percent to 25 percent of
zoo visitors taunted the animals - especially predators such as lions and
tigers - by mimicking, yelling, throwing things at them or otherwise
aggravating them.

"This is not an isolated incident, and the zoo is trying to wrangle itself
out," he said.