Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tiger Tragedy

This piece of morning news is both tragic and very strange:

Investigators trying to determine how a tiger escaped its zoo enclosure on Christmas Day — killing one man and mauling two others — plan a thorough sweep of the zoo grounds Wednesday to look for clues.

Authorities do not believe more people were attacked, but they want to inspect the area in the daylight. Zoo officials are still uncertain how long the tiger, which last year badly mauled a zookeeper, was loose before being shot dead.

The three men who were attacked Tuesday while visiting the zoo were in their 20s, police spokesman Steve Mannina said. The attack occurred just after the 5 p.m. closing time, on the east end of the 125-acre grounds.

Growing up in San Francisco, we often went to the zoo on Christmas. The thought of any of the animals getting loose never crossed our minds.

This undated file photo provided by the San Francisco Zoo shows Tatiana, a female Siberian tiger. Tatiana, the tiger that mauled a zookeeper last year escaped from its pen at the San Francisco Zoo on Tuesday Dec. 25, 2007, killing one man and injuring two others before police shot it dead, authorities said. Associated Press © 2007

I find this story tragic both for the people and for the tiger. Even as a child, I was troubled about the very concept of "zoos." It upset me to see such noble animals in cages. Now, the big question is how did this Tiger get loose?

The approximately 300-pound female did not leave through an open door, Jenkins said. But he could not explain how it escaped — the tiger's enclosure is surrounded by a 15-foot-wide moat and 20-foot-high walls.

"There was no way out through the door," Jenkins said. "The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leapt out of the enclosure."

Something smells fishy. I find it unlikely that the Tiger was able to climb out of the enclosure, or she would have done it before now. But somehow she got loose, leading to a tragic end for both man and beast.


Mathman6293 said...

I have a question about this story. Were the zoo visitors possibly taunting the tiger?

Growing up we always went to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. I recall watching the Lions Pace in their cages (before they built the newer exhibits) and thinking it was awful.

Mauigirl said...

Cats believe that revenge is a dish best served cold...perhaps she was biding her time, waiting for an opportunity.

Seriously, it is indeed tragic; I always hate it that when a situation like this happens, the animal gets killed. In this case I suppose it couldn't be helped. Something must have gotten her upset, though; Mathman raises a good question. Maybe those guys were provoking her.

What a beautiful tiger. So sad.

We too have gone to the San Francisco Zoo a number of times and it's hard to imagine the tiger just getting loose like that.

I agree it is bad when animals like this are kept in cages but given the increasing degradation of their natural environment, at least zoos like the San Francisco one try to imitate their natural environment.

Mauigirl said...

Sorry, didn't finish my thought...

Given the increasing degradation of their environment, some day there may not be a way for them to survive outside captivity, and at least zoos like this try to make the situation more natural for them. But I know it's not the same as being free. And I guess she understood that.

Bruce Webb said...

Mathman they did find sticks and pinecones in the moat that zookeepers say couldn't have gotten there by accident so it looks likely that these guys did taunt the tiger. Moreover there are unconfirmed indictions that one or more of these guys got partially over the fence and ended up being the claw hold needed to get the Tiger over the top, kind of a morbid off take on the concept of 'give a hand up'. And we can't even be sure the dead kid was the lead actor. The tiger tracked a trail of blood three hundred yards suggesting that one of the other two was pretty severely wounded on the initial scene.

Obviously the tiger had to be shot, which is all the more reason to not cage top end predators to start with. Don't put grizzly bears and tigers in enclosures. Each in their natural environment roam large distances and neither has much reason to concede ground to anyone or anything, when they get out of a cage their first instinct is not going to be to run. It is like killer whales, grey whales and sperm whales. They will put up with a lot, but they can and will smash up your boat if provoked enough (luckily people aren't on their respective diets). The difference being that bears and tigers will in fact eat you.