Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Tiger That Stole Christmas


One dead, two mauled in tiger attack at SF Zoo on Christmas Day. Who is to blame and why?

We were going to visit the San Francisco Zoo yesterday. I’m not kidding. We’re members of the zoo and pay an annual membership fee so that we can go there whenever we want. Christmas is normally a perfect day to go there, because the place is usually empty.

San Francisco has a great zoo, not as good as the Central Park Zoo in New York City or the San Diego Zoo, but it’s still a decent zoo that has been improving its appearance and adding new exhibits over the last decade.

Well, I am happy we decided to stay home yesterday. Otherwise, I could have ended up as Christmas dinner for a Tiger. What a way to go.

Here’s the story, compliments of

The same tiger that attacked and mauled a trainer at the San Francisco Zoo last year, attacked and killed one man and seriously injured two more after escaping its pen on Christmas Day.

“Tatiana,” the 350-pound Siberian tiger, managed to escape its cage shortly after 5:00 p.m. and then attacked a man in his 20s who was standing near the tiger exhibit.

The tiger then attacked at least two other visitors to the San Francisco Zoo before being shot and killed by police.

The zoo is closed today as officials try to figure out what went wrong. They also want to conduct a thorough sweep of the grounds during daylight. They said additional victims aren’t likely. They are still uncertain how long the tiger was loose before she was killed by police.

The zoo had five tigers at the zoo – three Sumatrans and two Siberians. Officials initially worried that four tigers had escaped, but found out quickly that Tatiana was the only tiger on the loose.

The three men who were attacked by Tatiana suffered “pretty aggressive marks” SF Police spokesman Steve Mannina said. The two injured men are in critical but stable condition at San Francisco General Hospital after undergoing surgery to have their wounds cleaned and closed, authorities said. They suffered deep bites and claw cuts on their heads, necks, arms and legs.

The zoo’s director of animal care and conservation, Robert Jenkins, could not explain how Tatiana escaped. The tiger’s enclosure is surrounded by a 15-foor-wide and 20-foot-high-walls, and the big cat did not exit through an open door, he said.

“There is no way out through the door,” Jenkins said. “The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leaped out of the enclosure.”

This incident opens up a whole controversial can of worms. Many people are mourning more for the tiger than for the man who was killed. The whole moral dilemma surrounding the entire concept of keeping animals captive in zoos is up for discussion.

My take on it is this – we risk incidents like these when we take animals out of the wild and put them in a zoo. I feel equally bad for both Tatiana and for the man who was killed. It is a horrific incident, especially on Christmas.

But, I don’t think zoos are to blame here. The San Francisco Zoo, for instance, does an enormous amount of conservation work and raises tons of money for the protection of endangered species and for helping to save their environments. When people see these animals in zoos, they’re more likely to become involved in efforts to save and protect them. Where else can they go to see these exotic animals? Last time I was in the Castro, I didn’t see any tigers. (I did spot a couple of bears, but that’s a whole different story.)

So, don’t blame the zoo. And you surely can’t blame the tiger. It’s just a very unfortunate incident that ruined Christmas for a lot of people.

About the Writer

Ed Attanasio is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on The Tiger That Stole Christmas

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By Steven Lane on December 26, 2007 at 11:24 pm
I try to stay as far away from tigers as possible. Anyone ever see the old tiger at Faro Beach in Rosarito Beach. He ate a kid's arm off years back but he is still there to take pictures with, no news on the kid.
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By Ivan Homeless on January 02, 2008 at 02:50 pm
I am reminded of Chris Rock's response after the Sigfried and Roy tiger attack - "that tiger didn't go crazy, that tiger went tiger!" I love the zoo and I understand that a lot of the animals are bred in captivity now but I would happily give up on zoos to know that these animals would be left alone in the wild (as if - right?!) but that way, when you get mauled by a tiger it's because you are in his environment not because you are lulled into a false sense of security that the tiger can't get you from it's cage.
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By 'Mean' Mike Duffau on January 02, 2008 at 05:23 pm
ivan homeless said it best! if someone's in your out!
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