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S.F. Zoo: Was Tatiana the tiger “frantic for food” when she killed?

By Gary Bogue
Friday, June 27th, 2008 at 8:05 am in San Francisco Zoo, tiger attack, Zoos.

Hungry big cats are more aggressive.

Thursday, an excellent in-depth KCBS News radio report said Tatiana’s loss of 50 pounds since her arrival at the zoo from Denver two years earlier may have heightened her aggressive behavior.

The report indicated notes in a log by the tiger’s keeper said, “Tatiana frantic for food.”

At the Denver Zoo, where the tiger lived before she was sent to the S.F. Zoo, they fed Tatiana 42 pounds of food a week. They fed her 32-36 pounds a week at the S.F. Zoo.

The KCBS report stated that Tatiana weighed 292 pounds when she arrived from the Denver Zoo in 2005 and just 242 pounds when she was shot and killed by police following the fatal San Francisco attack.

Last year on Dec. 25, after escaping from her grotto, the tiger attacked and killed 17-year-old zoo visitor Carlos Sousa Jr. of San Jose and injured two of his friends.

A year earlier, on Dec. 22, 2006, former zookeeper Lori Komejan had been clawed and bitten by Tatiana during a feeding event and suffered serious injuries.

If Tatiana was “frantic for food” as her keeper wrote … could that have contributed to her Christmas Day attack? What do you think? /Gary

I think you’re DEFINITELY going to want to hear the entire KCBS report on Tatania the tiger:

Photo of Tatiana by Flickr user MumblyJoe used under a Creative Commons license

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No Responses to “S.F. Zoo: Was Tatiana the tiger “frantic for food” when she killed?”

  1. Laila Says:

    If SF Zoo cannot support its imprisoned creatures, then it should be shut down. Denying animals food and allowing them to be unhappy is not acceptable. Since there was a statement in the caretaker’s log about this, then why wasn’t anything done?

  2. Janet Says:

    I have a to agree with the lady above.Poor tatiana was trying to get point across. She was HUNGURY.The zoo keepers should be responsible for keeping notes on these animals. And following threw with instructions from there supervisor when they have abnormal behavior at the Zoo. Remember we are there voices….Need to be aware of the actions of the animal. Normal and not normal behavior is a must in keeping her in healthy atmosphere I believe she was truely upset because no one would reconize her hungury appetite she was having. enough is enough…….

  3. Ken Says:

    So why didn’t this information make it in the initial investigation? It would be important, don’t you think?
    Sounds like something the kids laywer would drum up.

  4. BHF Says:

    We cannot assume that we know what a correct diet is for a captive tiger is supposed to be. Our kids and pets are all overfed. If this tiger were given food every time it seemed to ask for some, then we would be arguing about how fat the tiger was. Before we make judgments on whether Tatiana was underfed we need to hear more about what her ideal weight would be. What is the average weight of a tiger in the wild? Were her displays of discontent solely due to hunger? These are questions that a professional keeper needs to answer.

    Then we need to know if her reduced diet contributed to her final actions and by how much. I am still convinced that she was aggravated more by the presence of the three individuals than any other source of irritation.

  5. Pat in Antioch Says:

    Poor Tatiana’s saga just gets sadder and sadder. While I still believe that the young men involved in the Christmas attack used extreme poor judgment, the zoo seems to be even more to blame. In my opinion, Tatiana was the lone innocent in the case. The report sheds light on many aspects, the first being that if she arrived from Denver in “good” physical shape, WHY was it necessary for her to lose weight? Zookeepers want the cats to be “active and enthusiastic” at mealtime. Might this be for any reason other than to give the spectators more excitement? there was not just one notation in the caretakers comments about Tatiana being hungry, but at least 3. These folks most likely spent more time with the animals than anyone else. Shouldn’t their notes have meant SOMETHING? Hearing words like “anxious”, “unhappy”, “stressed” and “agitated” only gave me a clearer picture of what Tatiana’s (and other animals) lives are like at the SF Zoo. I realize that man is the worst enemy of these beautiful creatures in the wild, but to lock them up in cages and further abuse them under the guise of safety &/or entertainment is reprehensible. I’ve NEVER been a zoo person, and have to wonder if maybe they aren’t better off just being left where they belong-at least then they might stand a chance.

  6. susan Phillips Says:

    Dear Gary, I am extremely concerned about the KCBS reports about deliberate underfeeding Tatiana and that the vet seems to think that a 20percent weight loss is “normal”. I have owned all sorts of animals from cats to horses, and I also am a volunteer at the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital. We carefully track the weights of all admitted animals, as well as noting how they are feeding, and believe me we would take immediate action about any weight loss and clearly hungry behavior.
    I am concerned that the zoo is deliberately underfeeding its animals, perhaps in some attempt to reduce costs, and that a very irresponsible vet is not taking proper care of her patients.
    Do you know of any zoo accrediting organization that we can ask to investigate feeding practices involving all of the animals at the zoo? Does the San Francisco ASPCA have the ability to make any such investigation?
    We clearly cannot count on the zoo administration or vet to take this action. I feel very sorry for the keepers who repeatedly noted problems and were ignored.

  7. Mrs. Neal Says:

    If Tatiana was so under-fed, how do they presume she had the great strength required to even get out??? AND, if she were so hungry, seems to me from my research on tigers, she would have eaten the men. I agree with Ken above- sounds like something the MEN’S attorney would dream up. When will society quit protecting juvenile delinquents and/ or men that act like they are? Alcohol, pot, lies, disrespect for the law, all before and since the attack from those MEN makes it pretty clear they were 100% at fault. I have spent time with a female tiger about Tatiana’s size. They are God’s creatures too and must be treated with respect by all humans. RIP Tatiana.

  8. Sonali Says:


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