December 27, 2007
crouching tiger, hidden agenda?
I don't know.
But yesterday I was very suspicious when I read that a tiger supposedly "jumped" an enclosure said by experts to be impossible for a tiger to jump.
The story is on the front page of today's Philadelphia Inquirer, and a story at the Inquirer website is now fueling speculation about human error:
Police Chief Heather Fong said the department has opened a criminal investigation to "determine if there was human involvement in the tiger getting out or if the tiger was able to get out on its own."Negligence by a zoo employee would obviously be the most likely cause of the tragedy. But if there was an intentional act, it comes down to a question of why.
A psychopathic prankster, possibly?
How about a demented activist who does not believe tigers should be kept in zoos?
Something about the timing of this statement seems a bit too, um, convenient:
San Francisco, Calif. -- In the wake of Siberian tiger Tatiana's escape and attack on visitors at the San Francisco Zoo--which left one person dead and two others seriously injured--PETA sent an urgent letter this morning to Manuel A. Mollinedo, executive director and president of the San Francisco Zoo, urging him to phase out the zoo's tiger exhibit.Another animal activist claims that the blame lies with people who breed tigers:
Who knows what happened to this tiger? ... It isn't the tiger's fault. It is the fault of the people breeding these animals in the first place that leads them to be here.By that logic, people breeding dogs are responsible for vicious dog attacks, and horse breeders are responsible for people thrown or trampled by horses.
Here's a report that one or more of the victims may have provoked the attack or enabled the animal to escape:
The three victims in the fatal tiger attack at the San Francisco zoo may have provoked the tiger into attacking, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.I'd like to know more about these "victims." Who are they? And why aren't they being called alleged victims?
While this is pure speculation, I don't think it is inconceivable that a group of people deliberately tried to free the tiger in the hope of accelerating the animal rights agenda, but the game plan backfired.
Would that make them martyrs instead of victims?
Of course, it's entirely possible that the victims were not in any way involved with freeing the cat, and that the criminal culprit(s) are at large.
UPDATE: More on the deceased alleged victim here:
No sign of AR activism, nor has any evidence been revealed placing him inside the tiger enclosure.
AND MORE: In repeated accounts like this one, there are references to a shoe and blood having been found by police inside the tiger enclosure. They could spare everyone a lot of speculation by simply disclosing what they probably already know.
Whose blood? Whose shoes?
(Sorry, but I get a little impatient when I'm made to wait for news I know is out there.)
If the zoo closes the tiger exhibit because of this, I think it's an unfortunate sign of the times.
As there are numerous updates to this post, click to continue below.
MORE: The LA Times has a pretty exhaustive report on this incident and the background.
AND MORE: In light of the continued focus on the victim, I'm forced to ask a question.
Assuming he jumped into the tiger's enclosure, why is this any more tragic than if he had ran onto the freeway?
Had he run onto the highway and been killed, would the parents' anger have been worldwide news?
AND MORE: Rumors are now being reported that the deceased may have been taunting the tiger:
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Police are reportedly investigating whether any of the victims in Tuesday's fatal tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo taunted the animal before it went on a rampage.Um, isn't that what the moat and the fence were for?
They put fences around freeways too. People can climb over fences, can't they?
Again, if a pedestrian did that and got run over, would anyone be heard to argue that pedestrians should be protected from cars and cars should be protected from pedestrians?
MORE: An article in the San Jose Mercury News takes a close look at the tiger enclosure, with pictures. There's a 20 foot moat (which was dry) then an 18 foot wall (higher than the recommended 16.5 feet which tigers cannot jump), and then a fence.
I'm even more puzzled by this, because even assuming the young men climbed the fence and dangled their feet over the edge of the wall, that might allow the tiger to leap up and bite a foot (and maybe pull a person in), but how on earth would the tiger be able to leap higher than it is capable of leaping? If the kids had used a rope or a board to climb down into the moat and taunt the tiger, it would still be there, because they fled to a cafe 300 yards away and only later did the tiger apparently track them down.
How it got out is a mystery which only the young men in the hospital can clear up.
Assuming that there was no board, I guess it's theoretically possible that if someone was dangling his legs over the wall, that the tiger took hold firmly, and instead of pulling him in, was able to successfully use his body for leverage in climbing out. But what would prevent him from being pulled in? Might he have been held by his companions? Or might he have held onto something (the fence or some trees), and by refusing to let go, allowed his body to be used as a bridge?
I admit it's a stretch, but I'm not seeing much in the way of other explanations.
UPDATE: Read the comments to the San Jose Mercury article. They'll probably be deleted, but I thought I'd quote these as a sample:
Comments like those just make me sympathetic to the intelligence and honesty of big cats.And:
Seems like some of the posters here need to go on a tiger taunting jaunt to their local zoo.And:
The only way to prepare for the eventual law suit is to "deny and demand proof" the requisite number of times (as often and a publically as you can) before the investigation is complete. Once the "proof" or truth is released you refuse comment and file your suit.And:
Kids of all ages taunt my dog, and that includes adult men who haven't grown up. I'm clear about it and explain that it's mean to the dog, and makes it harder for the next people who fit their description when my dog remembers their having teased him, but I've seen the same people do it the next time they pass under my window anyway. I can totally picture them teasing a tiger. I'm not saying these people teased that tiger, but it happens with my dog all the time, so why wouldn't it happen with a tiger? Posted by: julie 12/27/2007 8:15 AMAnd:
"IF" it turns out that these kids were taunting that big cat, they got exactly what they deserved.And:
Although this is a tragedy, people who don't respect or understand the instincts of a predator don't belong in the gene pool. If we think about it, zoos are a symptom of a lack of balance in human nature. Because humans take this living planet for granted, we are all endangered species. Posted by: chris smith 12/27/2007 8:45 AMOverall, there's not a whole lot of sympathy for the alleged victims.
If it turns out that they did taunt the tiger, why should they be entitled to legal damages? Yet most likely, they'll be compensated.
I think is the cult of zero responsibility that has so many people up in arms.
MORE: Regarding the two guys in the hospital.... They're older, and they fled from the scene.
Is it possible that they dangled the 17 year old in there? Why? Initiation, perhaps?
Anyway, they're both adults. Why are their names being withheld?
BOTTOM LINE: I am certain that there are already answers to many of the questions I am asking. It's just that the news is not being fully reported. (One of the limitations of blogging is that I can only find what's online.)
MORE: The dead boy's father thinks the two men in the hospital have the answer:
Regarding the speculation about enticing the big cat, he said, "I'm not saying my son could have been taunting. I don't know. Those two wounded boys, they should have the answer. I'm just waiting to find out myself."I think the cops already have a pretty good idea what happened, but what we call "news" has to travel in stages -- first from sources like the police to MSM reporters, and only when they have reported it does it become news for bloggers like me who hover over Google as a vulture hovers over roadkill.
MORE: The story just keeps looking more and more fishy. Now investigators are saying they'll have to rely on "physical evidence."
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Investigators will have to rely on physical evidence as they try to determine how a tiger was able to escape its enclosure before its fatal attack on a 17-year-old at the San Francisco Zoo.Does this mean they can't ask the two brothers what happened? Why? Are the "victims" refusing to talk to police? Who are they? Has their lawyer advised them to remain silent?
Why isn't this being reported?
UPDATE: Is the idea of freeing dangerous animals now spreading?
A headline in the Chicago Sun Times asks "Vandals free Wisconsin zoo cougars -- were they inspired by San Francisco?"
MANITOWOC, Wis. -- Two cougars freed from the Lincoln Park Zoo by vandals were captured Thursday without injuring anyone, police said. Vandals cut some chain-link fencing overnight to free the two animals, Lt. Kevin Rocklewitz said.No idea whether the vandals were animal rights activists or "normal" barbarians.
MORE (03:00 p.m. EST) Still precious little on the brothers, who are described as doing well enough to be released in a few days:
Specifics regarding the brothers' injuries are not being released, but Dr. Eric Isaacs said that when they arrived they were in serious but stable condition.The "victims" obviously know what happened.
So are they talking, or aren't they?
You'd almost think that someone does not want the facts known.
UPDATE (03:09 p.m.): Finally, a common sense headline -- "Survivors hold key to solving mystery of S.F. Zoo's tiger attack."
Not that they've reported anything new (zoo employees are under strict orders not to talk), but it shows that at least someone in the reporting business realizes that the survivors must know what happened.
UPDATE: The same zoo director who was earlier quoted as saying the wall was 18 feet high now says it was only 12 feet high!
The director of the zoo where a teenager was killed by an escaped Siberian tiger acknowledged Thursday that the wall around the animal's enclosure was 12 1/2 feet - well below the height recommended by the main accrediting agency for the nation's zoos.Sheesh. Maybe the guy should have measured it.
MORE: More here.
AND MORE: The way this story is coming out is such a damned mess it is frankly unbelievable. Now the zoo director is denying making his own previously quoted statements.On Wednesday, Mollinedo told The Chronicle it was likely that the animal was provoked, noting that "a couple of feet dangling over the edge could possibly have done it."
Today, Mollinedo denied making that statement.
An examination of the tiger's body also revealed a significant amount of concrete in its back paws, according to a source close to the investigation. That may indicate the tiger used its back claws to help push it up the grotto wall. Who is in charge of what we call news anyway?
I see no point in trying to analyze constantly changing stories.
MORE: The San Francisco Chronicle now identifies the survivors, but notes they have not been forthcoming:
And sources close to the investigation tell The Chronicle that the surviving brothers have not been entirely forthcoming during interviews with police.Mollinedo now denies saying that.
UPDATE (12/28/07): It now turns out that the two uncooperative survivors not only lied to the Sousa boy's father, but have a police history:
When Carlos Sousa Jr. didn't show up for Christmas dinner, his father called several of his son's friends - including the two brothers injured in the tiger attack that killed the teen.Here's an account of what happened in the earlier incident:
Both Kulbir and Paul Dhaliwal were charged Oct. 9 with misdemeanor public intoxication and resisting a police officer after they were arrested a short distance from their home while apparently chasing two men, according to court documents.OK, the wall appears to have been too low.
But something motivated that tiger to not only make a very difficult climb or leap out of there, but pursue the Dhaliwals to the cafe 300 yards away.
MORE: According to this report, survivor Paul Dhaliwal was previously sentenced by a court to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
posted by Eric on 12.27.07 at 08:02 AM
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