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Tiger attack (continued) …

By Gary Bogue
Friday, December 28th, 2007 at 9:13 am in tiger attack, Zoos.

Seems like an awful lot of fingers are being pointed at the three young men who were attacked — and one of them killed — by the Siberian tiger at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day.

Insinuations are being bandied about that the three men may have “leaped over the wall and taunted the animal.” Reports are also being publicized about the past criminal records of the three men.

So what has all that got to do with being attacked by a tiger?

No matter what those men may or may not have done to provoke that tiger … we must not forget that the bottom line here is that the tiger should NOT have been able to escape from its enclosure.

Taunting, teasing, throwing stuff, yelling, or having a criminal record have NOTHING to do with the fact that the tiger was somehow able to escape from its cage.

That responsibility falls directly on the San Francisco Zoo — and no one else.

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  1. kd3569 Says:

    Is this a case of “locking the barn door after the horse is stolen”, or “20-20 hindsight”? Shouldn’t we be able to trust the SF Zoo professionals to keep both the animals in their charge and the public safe? Apparently not. Is it negligent design or criminally negligent design? Is it a lack of sufficient funds or criminally negligent expenditure of funds? An independent investigation should be done.

  2. Pat in Antioch Says:

    I have to agree with you Gary…..NO MATTER WHAT, this tiger should NOT have been able to escape her confines. I find it interesting that even when the zoo was inspected by (I believe it was the Feds) no one noticed that the wall wasn’t high enough? The blame should be shared, but NOT by the victims. I also shook my head in amazement when I read the article that said the first zoo employee to receive the call about the attack didn’t believe it? I would think that under the circumstances, they should have “erred” on the side of caution & NOT doubted the call.

    Pat in Antioch

  3. Barbara Says:

    I agree that the tiger should not have been able to escape from its enclosure. Actually, I believe that the tiger should not have been IN that enclosure. It is time to make zoos, at least involving larger mammals, a thing of the past. These places are not a “preservation” of wildlife. They are a legalized means of animal torture.

    Regardless of how architecturally similar to the animal’s real life habitat these “moats,” “islands” and other forms of pretended appearances seem, they are nothing but decorated prisons that have been brick-and-mortared.

    The weather conditions probably conflict with what the animal’s predecessors lived in for the past thousands of years. And, the animal is dumped in an unnatural world for its entire life so that a line of humans can glance at it for a couple of minutes.

    Posted signs reading “Do Not Feed/Tease/Harass the Animals” is purposeless because humans are expected to be analyzing instruction. If the human doesn’t understand the reason for the instruction, instead it might become bait, and be intentionally distorted. Animals, on the other hand, don’t analyze prior to attack. Instead, they behave out of instinct, or possibly frustration.

    Perhaps if zoos were in some way converted to temporary refuges to accommodate injured wildlife prior to returning it to a natural habitat; or, if they became sanctuaries for elderly animals, that I could tolerate so long as the property was inaccessible to non-employees. That would even be a tax payment that I could appreciate.

    Otherwise, I truly think it is time to revert strictly to the Discovery Channel and encyclopedias for what has become nothing more than our fifteen minutes of “learning.”

  4. stephen landry Says:

    Shame on you Gary! You of all people should know better.

    On the contrary, “…taunting, teasing, throwing stuff, yelling…” have EVERYTHING to do with the tiger managing to escape. In extreme emotional states, humans have managed impossible feats like lifting cars – why can’t a tiger perform a normally impossible leap or reach? I have no doubt an enraged tiger can also do far more than normal.

    This does NOT mean that the wall should not be raised to the recommended 5 meters, or even higher. Of course it should.

    The key questions are:

    1) Why was an enclosure that has never been breached in 60 years suddenly inadequate?
    2) If they were attacked without provocation, why are the two survivors “not forthcoming with police”? and 3) Why did the tiger only attack those three?

    As for the police record, yes – even THAT is relevant – a disrespect for authority and norms of behavior in one area is certainly likely to bleed into other areas.

  5. lynn Says:

    Where was the zoo keeper or zoo security? There was 20 minutes from the lst call until the tiger was killed. They (zoo keepers & zoo security) should have responded immediately and tranquilzed the animal or at least tried to. Plus, why did the police have to patrol under fear of more tigers, certainly the SF zoo could immediately know how many tigers they had.
    Due to cutting corners, not having procedures in place and personnel trained to respond, a person lost their life, a tiger who was innocent lost hers and 2 men were critically hurt. Immediate response could have saved the tiger and the 2 men.

  6. MEGAN SLADE Says:


  7. Karen Says:

    Stephen Landry,

    Maybe the tiger was taunted, but there’s no indication she was exceeding “normal” abilities. Whoever initially specified moat width and fence height was/were probably not pulling numbers out of the air. Zoos must be designed so that the animals within cannot endanger other animals; whether those animals are residents or guests, human or not, is immaterial. People will do stupid things. Zoo residents will get cranky. These are all part of the natural range of behaviors of the creatures in question. The zoo’s responsibility is to keep them apart. The rest of the details you call significant only obscure this basic fact.

  8. stephen landry Says:


    When the AZA checked three years ago, why did they certify the height as OK? Certainly they carry tape measures.

    I AGREE it should have been raised higher to account for “zoo residents getting cranky” and “people doing stupid things”.

    When a bridge is designed, they plan for the MAXIMUM load, then DOUBLE or TRIPLE that, to account for unusual extra stresses.

    This was not the case here – there was no safety margin. The wall height was only of sufficient height for a well-fed, placid, non-enraged animal. I am NOT saying it was adequate. The moat wall height was CLEARLY INADEQUATE. Yet, it stood since the 1940s.

    However, live animals are not toys, to be thrown sticks and pinecones for amusement. It is sad that of the three, the kid with the least troubled history took the brunt of it.

    Boys will be boys, but I have never been arrested for public drunkenness, harassing neighbors, etc. – have you? If you were, would you attempt to kick out a partition and verbally harass the arresting officers?

    This is beyond “boisterous boys” and into anti-social behavior. This was just three months ago, in their own neighborhood, according to public records. If this is how they act at home, it is not surprising they would not be model citizens elsewhere.

    I would like them to be held accountable for whatever actions they took that precipitated this tragedy.

    At the very least, they should call Mr. Sousa and apologize for lying to him about his son’s whereabouts on Christmas day. And they should apologize for whatever part they played in his son’s tragic death.

  9. Dee Ann Gruver Says:

    The situation with the tiger is a clear warning to us as humans. Having animals in zoos is the least tasteful of options, However to insure that there are these wonderful creatures in the wild we will and should keep them safe. That being said there are MANY faults in this particular event.The height of the wall,
    the temperment of the animal,The presance or lack there of, zoo officials. The Buystanders,And the “wonderful” animal rights activists who are willing to condem and propogate issuses.

    The basic fact is an ANIMAL got out and KILLED a PERSON.
    Animals are a gift to be cared for but in no way are more important than People. I am an animal lover but will kill an animal to: a save a human
    B; Eat.

    yes the men need to be charged for there behavior.
    yes the zoo needs to be acountable for the escape and lack of resopnse.
    yes the tiger already paid the price.

  10. Jason Says:

    I would like to ask a question. If you took your 2 year old daughter/son to the zoo and she/he taped on the glass of the Polar Bear exhibit- which resulted in the Polar Bear breaking thought the glass then killing your daughter/son, How would you feel when others blamed you or your daughter/son for “taunting” or “provoking” the attack? Remember a former S.F. zookeeper has went public in stating that in the 60 ’s they did have a Tiger that jumped the moat, at that time they decided to fill the moat with water for a number of years for just such a reason. Frankly who give a damn if the animal was taunted or not? Fact of the matter is that the zoo failed to provide adequate safety – even with their prior knowledge of the inadequacies of their sub-standard moat. On your next visit to the zoo I hope for you and your family safety that the zoo has anticipated any and all scenarios and acted accordingly in regards to safety measures. If not perhaps we need to taunt them into it!

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