Sunday, December 30, 2007

Confusion, Chaos During San Francisco Zoo Tiger Attack

According to the LA Times the scene where three young men were attacked by a Siberian tiger during a Christmas Day trip the San Francisco Zoo was chaotic and fraught with misinformation. The Times also notes that an investigation revealed that the tiger was "not intentionally let out." Another piece in the puzzle as to how a 350pd Siberian tiger escaped its enclosure to maul three young men, one fatally.

Seventeen pages of dispatch notes released from the San Francisco Police Department told a tale of confusion after zoo employees contacted 911 from the cafe where two brothers had run to escape from the Siberian tiger.

At 5:08pm:
"A very agitated male is claiming he was bitten by an animal," the cafe worker said.
The tiger attack began just outside what is known as the "Tiger Grotto." Seventeen-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and his two friends, brothers, 23-year-old Kulbir Dhaliwal and 19-year-old Paul Dhaliwal, were outside the tiger enclosure when the 350pd Siberian, Tatiana, attacked Kulbir.

Carlos and Paul yelled at the tiger who turned his attention to the 17-year-old Carlos, allowing the now injured Kulbir and Paul to escape.

For some reason the zoo personnel dispatch thought the two brothers were "psychologically impaired."
Zoo personnel dispatch now say there are two males who the zoo [considers] 800 [police code for psychological impairment] . . . But one is in fact bleeding from the back of the head . . . at the Terrace Cafe.
We wondered about the "psychologically impaired" label assigned to the two young men. Was there some issue as whether the zoo employees or the police did not believe their story, that the two men had been attacked by a tiger? In a zoo?

5:20 pm

"Located victim puncture hole to neck. Medics with him now."

According to the Times, minutes later the tiger was at the cafe mauling the other brother, Paul Dhaliwal.
"Have the tiger blue on blue," the dispatch read, indicating a code for a potentially dangerous situation for officers. "Have tiger boom boom. . . . Cafe -- have tiger, on foot, attacking victim, blu on blu."
"Stop shooting," the log read, "have cat, shot cat."
The tiger was now dead, both brothers mauled by the tiger. When authorities reached the tiger grotto they found the now lifeless body of Carlos.

There has been some speculation that the tiger was "taunted" by its victims or that the victims had played a role in the tiger's escape. Police Chief Heather Fong announced at a news conference they had found no evidence of the tiger being "intentionally released."

When the story first broke DBKP wrote a piece on a tiger's ability to leap up to 30ft. It was reported that the wall around the tiger grotto was 20ft tall plus a moat inside that was 15ft wide. This caused consternation among some of our commenters who argued this was an impossible feat for a tiger.

From the original DBKP piece: San Fran Zoo Wall 20 Ft. Tall: Tigers Can Leap up to 30 Feet

We decided to research how far tigers are known to be able to leap. From the American Museum of Natural History:
No animal fires our imaginations like the tiger -- and for good reason. Tigers are the largest of the big cats. They are incredibly powerful predators: Bengal tigers can bring down wild cattle weighing a ton or more. They are as agile as they are strong: tigers can leap more than 30 feet (9 m) in a single bound, climb trees, and swim for miles. And in their forest habitats, they can disappear in an instant, melting soundlessly into the brush. "When you see a tiger," says Indian biologist Ullas Karanth, "it is always like a dream."
Get your facts straight before you publish them please. A tiger can leap 30 feet in a straight line going forward, NOT 30 feet up into the air. I don't see how your math adds up to the tiger jumping over a 15 foot moat and then UP 20 feet. We need to be focusing here on the fact that tigers are a WILD animal and will act like one if provocked. We need to be using this horrible tragedy to help convince people that tigers are not pets as so many people believe they can be.
Some of the comments we received from this story:
Well, it seems to me that the math would be to figure the hypotenuse of a right triangle. If the tiger jumped, it was probably on the high ledge on the other side of the moat, which means 15ft across and (judging by the stairs going down into the moat) at least 10 ft up from the bottom. This means that the straight line distance of the jump was approximately the square root of the base (15^2) plus the jump height (10^2) or about 18 ft - well within the stated jumping distance.
Actually I worked this out much as Cameron did. The problem was the news photos and stories fail to show the derivative basis of measurement. The moat is 15'[ wide, but the Island is higher than the water surface. So is the 20' height from water or land? One makes it impossible, the other highly improbable. I did notice the moat high wall failed to have the curve in that is so common now. And the Tiger would need a running start. Cats do not think like that. The zoo would have found it in the drink a few times. BTW Tigers are excellent swimmers. No fear of water at all.
Here's some potential validation from the SF Chronicle:

Marian Roth-Cramer recalled the day she and her son, who was 4 or 5, visited the tiger exhibit in 1997.
"My son had his hands on the metal bar," said the San Francisco woman, a children's dance and family programs coordinator at a branch of the YMCA. "All of a sudden, I saw the tiger leap over the moat, put a paw on the dirt (and hang on). I screamed and grabbed my son."
The animal slid away. She turned to a zookeeper and asked if he'd seen what she had. His reply: "She always does that. She hates my guts."
Jack Hanna, wildlife expert, also weighed in, proclaiming it would be impossible for a tiger to get past the 15ft wide moat and then go over the zoo's 20ft wall. Hanna said that someone had to of "taunted" the Siberian tiger.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Animal expert Jack Hanna calls it "virtually impossible" for a rampaging tiger to have climbed or leaped out of its zoo enclosure in San Francisco. The director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo speculates that visitors could have been fooling around and might have taunted the animal. Hanna says it's even possible they helped it get out, maybe by putting a board in the 20-foot moat surrounding the exhibit.
Source - WTOL - Tiger Leap "Virtually Impossible"
After rampant speculation such as Hanna's where someone had to come to the zoo toting a 20ft long board to put across the moat and that the victims must of "taunted" the tiger and/or let it out it was revealed by the Zoo Director that the wall was only 12.5ft tall.

From the DBKP story: Killer Tiger at San Francisco Zoo: Wall only 12.5' Tall
Today from the AP:

San Francisco Zoo Director admits tiger wall was just 12 1/2 foot tall.

So let's do the math one more time:

Tigers can leap 30 feet. This according to the Museum of Natural History.

The San Francisco Zoo director admits the wall less than 13 foot tall.

13 feet versus 30 feet = tiger over the wall
The two brothers were released today from San Francisco General Hospital. According to the AP, Carlos suffered a deep slash to his throat after he tried to scare the tiger away from mauling it's first victim, Kulbir. Both brothers suffered severe bite and claw wounds. Source - AP - Brothers mauled by tiger now out of hospital

Hopefully details as to how the tiger managed to escape her grotto will be revealed. Our sympathies go to the family of Carlos, a very brave young man. And to the two Kulbir brothers.

Image [Tiger on Wall]
Source - LA Times - New details of tiger attack released
Source - LA Times - Brothers mauled by tiger now out of hospital - Bigger, Better!.
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave your name/nic.
We've changed the comments section to allow non-registered users to comment.
We'll continue like that until it's being abused.
We reserve the right to delete all abusive or otherwise inappropriate comments.