Wednesday, December 26, 2007

San Fran Zoo Wall 20 Ft. Tall: Tigers Can Leap up to 30 Feet

From today's AP:
The San Francisco Zoo remains closed, at least for one day after the fatal mauling by a tiger. The San Francisco Police consider the zoo a "crime scene" until they can piece together how Tatiana the Siberian tiger was able to escape her enclosure, fatally maul one man and injure two others.
Authorities are mystified as to how the tiger managed to get out of its habitat.
The zoo's director of animal care and conservation, Robert Jenkins, could not explain how the 300-pound tiger escaped. The tiger's enclosure is surrounded by a 15-foot-wide moat and 20-foot-high walls, and the big cat did not leave through an open door, he said.

"There was no way out through the door," Jenkins said. "The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leaped out of the enclosure."
The man who was mauled to death was found right outside the enclosure. The other two men were found approximately 300 yards away. The tiger had attacked one man and was in the process of attacking him a second time when the authorities shot the tiger dead.

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."

More on Siberian tigers from the National Geographic:
Siberian (or Amur) tigers are the world's largest cats. They live primarily in eastern Russia's birch forests, though some exist in China and North Korea. There are an estimated 400 to 500 Siberian tigers living in the wild, and recent studies suggest that these numbers are stable.

Size: 10.75 ft (3.3 m)
Weight: 660 lbs (300 kg)
Protection status: Endangered

This short video of a tiger attack is a graphic example of the giant cat's prowess.

We did the math. Tiger's can leap up to 30 ft. in one bound. The zoo's moat is 15 ft. wide. The wall of the enclosure is 20 ft. tall. Tatiana was a Siberian tiger, the largest of the world's cats.

From an earlier DBKP story, DBKP: Horror at San Francisco Zoo, it was revealed that Tatiana had attacked a zookeeper, severely mauling the woman, chewing part of her arm off. The zoo spent $250,00 reinforcing the feeding area. The zoo reopened the big cat exhibit in September.

In this case, those who designed and approved the big cat enclosure may have underestimated the sheer power of these beautiful but extremely dangerous animals. One man and one Siberian tiger are dead. Two men are injured.

A deadly lesson learned.

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