Friday, January 04, 2008

Tiger Attack

Tatiana and Tony
On Christmas day, just after closing, a tiger got loose in the San Francisco Zoo, killed a 17 year old and mauled two brothers in their early 20s. When police arrived, she was in the act of mauling one of the brothers, and she was killed. Her name was Tatiana, and she was an extremely rare 350 pound Siberian tiger who had been brought to the zoo to be part of a breeding program. and meantime was a companion to 15 year old Tony.

The incident is still under investigation. Although the wall of the tiger enclosure was shorter than recommended, this is the first time that a tiger has ever gotten over it. Or, so far as is known, even tried to get over it. A captive animal is not nearly the athlete that a wild one is, and the 12 1/2 foot wall plus moat had always been more than enough to contain the cats. However, if a big cat is angry, it is capable of amazing feats of strength.*

The discovery of pine cones, sticks, and a large rock in the moat (where they could not have come naturally) initially caused many to consider that the Daliwal brothers might have been taunting Tatiana. The later revelation that Jennifer Miller saw four men at the lion house at 4:30, just about half an hour before Tatiana broke out, three of which were taunting the lions, adds strength to this possibility. Mrs. Miller stated that she recognized Carlos Sousa, the 17 year old victim, as the only member of the group who was behaving. The Daliwal brothers and an unknown fourth party were roaring at the lions in a manner which upset them and so disturbed Mrs. Miller that she took her children and left. It is not entirely beyond belief that if the men would taunt animals when the zoo was still open and there were witnesses around, they would escalate their taunting after the zoo closed and there were no witnesses. The discovery of an empty vodka bottle in their car adds one more piece of evidence. Although it has not been corroborated by the San Francisco police, the New York Post reported that the brothers had slingshots in their pockets when they were rescued.

Reports indicate that after the tiger jumped the fence she attacked one of the Daliwal brothers. Carlos Sousa yelled at her to distract her; she then attacked him and the Daliwal brothers ran away. Tatiana left Sousa and followed the blood trail to the closed cafe where the brothers had managed to attract attention and get the staff to call 911. Tatiana had mauled both brothers when the police arrived and shot her.

As of Thursday, January 3, the brothers hadn't called Sousa's father, and apparently weren't talking to authorities, but they had hired an attorney who plans to sue.

In the article about Mrs. Miller's information, there were 1246 comments as of 10:30 Thursday night. A few defended the Daliwal brothers; most expressed sadness for the deaths of Carlos Sousa and Tatiana, who would seem to be the innocent victims in this story, and anger at the Daliwals for causing this tragedy and apparently preparing to cash in on it.

Carlos Sousa was a brave young man. He lost his life saving the lives of two young men who may have called this attack upon themselves and who then ran away and left him to be killed. His family is left grieving his loss. For them, Christmas will always be tainted by the memories of this horror.

I totally understand the need to kill Tatiana before she could harm anyone else. But, I agree with the comment writers who consider her to be one of the victims. If you taunt a tiger, you might expect to get mauled. If you taunt a captive tiger, you might deserve to get mauled. Tatiana was being a tiger. That was her nature. Just like her affection for Tony was her nature.

Assuming that the Daliwal brothers and the unknown fourth man Mrs. Miller saw did taunt Tatiana, am I totally awful to think that the wrong two may have died that day?

* I once had an 18 1/2 year old, four and a half pound cat named Missy. She was old and arthritic. When she walked, it was slowly and carefully. She looked like a little old lady cat. Six weeks before she died, she was sleeping on my shoulder and she suddenly came wide awake and jumped off. By the time I could turn around, there was only a tail left of the mouse. Cats are predators. Even the mildest of them.

Anvilcloud commented that " Some males of a certain age can be most obnoxious." Which reminds me that I read that 98% of rattlesnake bites that come into ERs are on the hand of a drunk male between 19 and 27. And there are two bites. So drunk they try to pick up a rattlesnake. Twice.

Photo of Tatiana and Tony by chadh


Cherry said...

I was so sad to hear that the boys are possibly suspected of taunting the cats, because that means that the death of the tiger was avoidable.

If in fact there was taunting, then I agree with you, as much as I'd never want to wish harm on any one or anything, I agree with you. Maybe not death but .. oh I don't know.

I heard the SF Zoo has installed cameras now... sadly a little too late.

Anvilcloud said...

Ah, so this is the background of the story. Some males of a certain age can be most obnoxious.

I wonder why they couldn't have used a tranquilizer gun on the tiger?

Kelli said...

My feelings exactly. Most people I'd mentioned this to couldn't understand why I was upset that the tiger had to be killed, but, as you said, she was just acting like a tiger. If the boys really were taunting her, any punishment they might receive will be too good for them.

Maya's Granny said...

A tranquilizer gun would have taken too long, giving the tiger time to kill the young men.

Always Question said...

It sounds to me as if it wasn't the brothers' day to settle their debt to karma, but I have no doubt that the debt will be settled.

marianne said...

Yes, this is the sad story here in my neck of the woods. Your perspective mirrors mine exactly. I think you are right on. It is heartbreaking.

J at said...

Such a sad story. Stupid boys. They didn't deserve to die, but neither did the boy who did, or the tiger. What a mess.

Deja Pseu said...

The first time I ever saw a tiger in person was at the SF zoo. I was 14 years old and blown away by how beautiful they are. This story has made me so sad. I hope the lawsuit gets thrown out of court.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the wrong two men died.

ShortWoman said...

*sigh* And if that picture is any guide, Tony and Tatiana really cared for one another.

Robin Andreae said...

If only it had been like the man and his sons I once saw taunting and making rude comments towards the lowland gorillas at the San Francisco zoo. The huge male silverback picked up some pooh and flung it at them. He hit the father square in the mouth.

Jill said...

This whole thing is terrible. I'm sad about the stupidity of it all--especially for the death of an animal who was being what she was created to be. And for the stupidity of those boys.

kenju said...

My intuition told me from the beginning that those boys were taunting/teasing the tiger.

Joy Des Jardins said...

What a sad story all the way around. No one would ever wish death, but it was just a stupid, juvenile situation that had a high cost.