"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.