As I suspected

"San Francisco police are investigating the possibility that one of the victims in the fatal tiger mauling on Christmas Day climbed over a waist-high fence and then dangled a leg or other body part over the edge of a moat that kept the big cat away from the public, sources close to the investigation said Wednesday.

The minimal evidence found at the scene included a shoe and blood in an area between the gate and the edge of the 25- to 30-foot-wide moat, raising questions about what role, if any, the victims might have had in accidentally helping the animal escape.

The three victims, all young men from San Jose, were visiting the zoo together. They were all present just outside the tiger's grotto when the tiger escaped, killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. with a savage slash to the throat, and injured the other two. The names of the survivors, who are brothers ages 19 and 23, have not been released.

The injured victims fled, leaving a trail of blood, which police believe the tiger followed for 300 yards up a zoo pathway. As the tiger cornered and attacked one of the brothers, four police officers arrived, distracted the animal and shot it dead."


Often, the simplest answer is the correct one.

Can we stop calling the boys "victims" now?

Earlier this week, zoo officials said the moat's wall was at least 20 feet tall. Today, they said it was little over 12 feet. Since the investigation began Tuesday, officials have given at least five different measurements for the enclosure, which is surrounded by a moat, two walls on either side of the moat, a small patch of grass and then another waist-high fence. Experts say that the depth of the moat and height of the walls could have a large impact on the animal's ability to escape the enclosure.

"Today we went out and measured the moat ourselves," said zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo. The tiger "had to have jumped (out but) how she jumped that high is beyond me."

In measuring the area, Mollinedo said, his staff found that contrary to information they had on file in their office, the moat wall was 12 1/2 feet high - about four feet lower than is recommended as a national standard by cat experts.

They also found that, contrary to numbers they had on file, the moat was 33 feet wide, which is sufficient to meet national standards.

The confusion over the grotto's size is only the latest headache for investigators looking into the attack, which happened shortly after the zoo's 5 p.m. closing time. The zoo has no video cameras that watch over the animals, making it difficult to piece together how Tatiana, a Siberian tiger, escaped. And sources close to the investigation tell The Chronicle that the surviving brothers have not been entirely forthcoming during interviews with police.


Me, I'm done with this subject, but feel free to have at it (or me) in the comments if you wish.


Karen said...

Exactly! I totally agree. These "brats" taunted this beautiful Tiger and received a nice "surprise" in return. I hope this will be a lesson to many people I've seen taunt animals at the zoo. This is the kind of stuff we see on the shows like "Jackass", etc. Only this time their little antic back fired and they got what they least expected, the animal fought back. This Tiger was gorgeous. I have pictures of her from my trip to the Zoo. I have one question, where were the Zookeepers with the tranquilizer guns? It took the police time to get there, find the Tiger and shoot her instead of the Zoo using the Tranquilizer guns. Hmmmmm. Pathetic and a huge tragedy on the loss of such a gorgeous animal.

chuck b. said...

Even if the boys taunted the tiger (and I am strongly inclined to believe that was the case), it should be very hard for a zoo animal to escape its area.

A tiger could have ended up killing more than just the taunters.

The zoo (and the law) has to deal with taunters and other visitors who can potentially create dangerous situations around wild animals. More guards, lights, and security cameras? I don't know.

I'm a little concerned the kids and their families will get some kind of insurance payout they [probably] don't deserve.

JvA said...

Yeah. If some dopey teenagers can lure a Siberian tiger out of its enclosure and headed over to the cafe, then something at the zoo needs to be fixed.

chuck b. said...

Yeah, but you can't idiot- or jerk-proof the whole world. People have been doing stupid, asshole things that get themselves, and others, killed for thousands of years.

I just hope the parents of these hooligans (which I should reiterate is my strong suspicion, and nothing more) don't get paid money for having raised these idiots.

Pam/Digging said...

Ooh, that's harsh. The death penalty for teasing a tiger? I hate to see kids taunting animals, and I hope to god I raise my own children to know better and respect animals more than that, but I don't see how anyone can say these people deserved what happened to them. Zoo safety policies should surely take human stupidity into account when they design enclosures. The papers are now saying that the wall wasn't up to code, height-wise. That plus the keeper-mauling incident tells me that the zoo has serious safety problems. I agree that the tiger was just doing what tigers do, and it's a shame that it had to be killed. But where's our compassion for the human victim, whose parents are stunned and mourning this Christmas?

chuck b. said...

I didn't say they deserve the death penalty for teasing a tiger, and noone said they deserved to die.

But if you do something stupid that could reasonably result in your death, and that's what happens..? I should have sympathy? Well, you can give them yours, but I will not.

"Zoo safety policies should surely take human stupidity into account when they design enclosures. The papers are now saying that the wall wasn't up to code, height-wise."

I agree with this and my agreement is very much in evidence in the above comments. Still, I don't think the world can be made entirely safe from stupid people.

Pam/Digging said...

I was responding more to this comment, "These "brats" taunted this beautiful Tiger and received a nice "surprise" in return," than to what you had written, Chuck. Although your line about the boys/men not being "victims" struck a chord too.

I think any parent, especially of a boy, would feel more sympathy than scorn for the victims. We all know how stupid and impulsive kids, esp. boys, can be. I feel sorry that the tiger was killed because the zoo didn't keep her safe. I feel sorry that the boys/men were mauled and killed. But I really feel sorry for the parents of the 17-year-old boy who died, because they will now be shredded by an unsympathetic element who want to blame them for the incident, before we even know what the facts are. Do we know that the boy who died was doing anything wrong? No. Then again, maybe he was.

No offense meant to you or your other commenters. I was just advocating a modicum of sympathy for the human victim who is still, after all, a child, and for his grieving parents.

Has anyone reading this *never* done something stupid that could have led to injury or even death? Let's think back to our teenage and college days. Let those perennially cautious, safe, and wise folks start casting those stones.

chuck b. said...

I am very upset, and I will grant you that my comments perhaps make me seem more ungenerous in spirit than I really am. And I will certainly grant that I am writing without all the facts. Please consider that all quite thoroughly acknowledged.

But, as someone who was once a rowdy, reckless teenage boy himself, and whose family was very concerned about him growing up--I say there should be no rush to heap sympathy on teen-age boys who do stupid things.

And, please, consider the category of stupidity going on here. This isn't jumping into a lake and misjudging its depth. Or driving 45 in a 25 zone. It's not getting drunk and throwing up on your girlfriend's mom's carpet, it's not getting high between classes, it's not saying hurtful things to people you love.

This is--possibly, and very much my gut instinct, coming from someone who was a teen-age boy, and knows what teen-age boys like to do--hopping a fence at a zoo to taunt and arouse a dangerous wild animal that could kill you. It's about starting something you might not be able to finish. It's inviting mayhem and catastrophe, and going out of your way to do that.

Completely innocent people at the zoo who were not associated with these boys are lucky to be alive today. Had any of them been harmed, they would have my deepest sympathies.

As for the parents, yeah, okay, they can have some of my sympathy too. We can't control all our kids choices. But still. I have to wonder. Were they too eager to heap sympathy and forgiveness on their kids when they had other opportunities to teach them about doing stupid things? I don't know. Thank god my parents shamed and punished me for doing stupid things. They didn't hold back when I was stupid, and I am a better person because of it.

The first comment came from someone who surfed in from CNN. Apparently, CNN now has what the Washington Post has had for a long time--a referral to blogs discussing articles of interest.

JvA said...

Today your SF tiger story was competing for space with our family murder story. Up here in the Seattle area, a 29-year-old woman and her boyfriend spent Christmas Eve shooting her parents, brother, sister-in-law, and toddler niece and nephew. They're saying they'd been arguing over money.

I sometimes wish I could find out exactly what was going through people's heads when they made decisions like, "OK, I'm going to jump into the tiger enclosure now" or "OK, I'm pissed that my family isn't giving me money, so I will kill them all, including the 3-year-old."

Because I seriously don't get it.

lisa said...

I'm with you on this one, Chuck. Reminds me of Binky the polar bear who attacked a tourist acting stupid near her cage at the zoo in Alaska. The woman in the (first of two) incident acknowleged in a televised interview that she was stupid, and held nobody responsible but herself. One can only hope that if the tiger was provoked, these "victims" will be as honest. However, as a mother of a young man I can also attest that the realization your boy died being an idiot is an exclamation point on a horrible tragedy for sure.