By TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press Writer Sat Dec 23, 4:15 AM ET
SAN FRANCISCO - A 350-pound Siberian tiger that mauled an experienced San Francisco Zoo keeper so badly she could lose her arm had no history of violence, prompting an investigation into what led to the vicious attack.
The tiger would likely remain on view Saturday, zoo officials said, even as the woman underwent emergency surgery to save her lacerated limb.
At least 50 visitors were at the zoo's big cat exhibit, called the Lion House, when the tiger, Tatiana, reached through her cage's iron bars and grabbed the keeper Friday afternoon, said Robert Jenkins, the zoo's director of animal care.
"We're still trying to figure out what happened and why it happened," Jenkins said.
The woman was rushed into surgery at San Francisco General Hospital and remained hospitalized Friday night. Her family requested that details of her condition not be released at this time, zoo and hospital officials said.
"My understanding is the injuries are not life-threatening, but perhaps limb-threatening," Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said.
The trainer has been an animal keeper at the zoo since 1997. Her main job is taking care of the zoo's four lions and three tigers, Jenkins said.
The attack happened during a regular 2 p.m. public feeding, during which keepers typically deliver a meal of fortified horse meat through a small slot.
"No matter how familiar you get with these animals, they're still wild animals," Jenkins said. "You have to have a healthy respect for them and be aware of what can happen."
The 3-year-old tiger arrived at the San Francisco Zoo from the Denver Zoo more than a year ago. There were no previous incidents of aggression against humans involving Tatiana, said Ana Bowie, a Denver Zoo spokeswoman.
The mauling was the first attack of its kind against a human at San Francisco Zoo, Jenkins said.
According to its Web site, San Francisco Zoo is one of the only zoos in the U.S. where visitors can see big cat feedings.
You know I'm really sorry this has happened but it all boils down to let the wild be wild! Zoo's are wonderful to see but really think about the poor animal that is not domesticated.(no I do not belong to Peta).
I walk though the zoo and hear the tigers cry so loud. It really is said.
This brings me back to the movie BORN FREE. I remember my father crying at this one. :)
Humans have become so demanding on what they too see so this is a little nature kicking them and letting them know that they are wild.
I respect wild because it was a gift to watch not harbor.
That is sad. but wild animals are always going to be wild. I like to go to zoo's (i'm still a kid) but sometimes i get very upset when i see some sad animal crying. Animals are always going to be wild and we can not treat them like dogs or cats. That is to bad something like that has to happen :(
Well until we have people that stop infinging on animal habitates or we get rid of poarchers. We are always going to have to have animals in captivity.
In saying that the only way for animals to surive in captivity is to have zoos. Where people can come and look at the animals for a fee. The fee is used to care for the animals. I am sure if there was another way of getting money for the food and care of these animals people would be doing that instead.
Keeping them in small enclosers isn't really want any animal lover wants to do, but they don't want to see and end to a species either.
Though maybe it isn't a bad thing to let them go extint. I mean look at the Dinasorsues (sp). They went extint, but animals didn't they just evolved and changed.
There was once 7 diffrent species of tigers and now there are only 5. I can only think of four, but zoo's mostly only have two types.
So those against the zoos need to look at the whole picture. Do they want the species to disapper or do they want to find a way to save it. Maybe istead of wasting their time and money on bashing zoos they need to come up with better altinitives.
More and more zoos are trying to make the animals habit more like nature, but it cost money, they have to keep their caretakes safety in mind, and that of the other animals. Plus space. A lot of zoos have been around for awhile and have lots of space, but some could use more, but can't because the land around them has been bought up so they have no where to expand too.
The bottom line is no matter what kind of animal you work with wild or demastic your going to get bite. The servity of the bite is going to depend on the type of animal you are dealing with.
Just like pits have a bad rap though they are far from the top biting breed in the US. Why do they make the news and the neighbors cocker doesn't the severity of the bite. A tiger is going to do a lot more damage then the nasty feieral cat that was brought in to be spayed so it doesn't reproduce. Both can send you to the hospital, but only one is going to make the front page of a national newpaper.
Accidents happen. Maybe the cat just didn't want to have to wait to eat. She wanted her food first and right then. Not later. She could have woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day and wanted to test her boundiers or she was feeling her oats and wanted to cause some trouble.
It is the risk that everyone deals with when dealing with an animal.
I do feel bad for her and I hope she doesn't loose her arm, but I am also glad they are investigation the accident and not just condiming the cat.
If you look at the history of zoos the animals were in a lot worse conditions then they are now. At least at most places. There are still some places that are horride, but people are either not going their anymore or they are trying to help make the place better.
I went to the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park when I was a child and I have to say most of the animals were in beautiful, natural-looking enclosures, not cages. I can remember going to the Bronx Zoo in NY and seeing the big cats in cages so small the cat could stand with its backside against the big, iron bars and jump to the other side and hit the bars there in one jump-horrible, I haven't been back there but I hear they are doing better now. I've never been to the San Francisco Zoo. Are they striving for natural enclosures and stimulation of their instincts to keep the animals mentally healthy? I hope they don't take it out on the tiger.
***Edited By: arachyd on 12/23/2006 6:37:14 PM*** Reason: add
arachyd ... i dont know how long ago it was that you went to the bronx zoo but it is far better then what you saw now. out of all the zoos i have too that is by far my favorite, so we go at least once a year.
i am a hundred percent FOR zoos. the big zoos that is, that are involved in conservation. not the little roadside zoos. i wish there weren't a need for them, but as long as, like langniappe said, people keep encroaching on their habitats, and poaching them, zoos are a vital part in an animals survival on this planet.
Hello guys: I KNOW why this happened! That zoo was in my backyard area!I am from that area of the world!(San Jose,CA 50 miles south of SF) San Francisco has No room for big cats and put them in cages instead of the way MarineWorld Africa USA does in Vallejo,CA(north of SF) where there is PLENTY of room for a natural habitat so that these big cats can walk around in environment built exactly like the wild that they would have come from and there is always positive impact training where animals are brought up in a very loving environment.Example: the tiger director of Australia's I think Queensland zoo(not steve Irwins) the director featured on the documentary "Awesome Pawsome" broadcasted on Animal planet did his internship and worked for years at MWAUSA when it was in Redwood City,CA and then moved to Australia to become Director there. SF zoo is truly antiquated because they cannot expand due to population and geography(SF was built on Landfill and just a bit of volcanic rock in the SF bay!) I am not surprised that it happened I just hope that the tiger doesn't pay for it. They need to relocate to another city or close down altogether. San Francisco has already gone downhill why should the pets and wildlife pay? There are some good people there though.
***Edited By: plrcdhlvr on 12/31/2006 2:05:57 AM*** Reason: punctuation
I actually live about a mile away from the San Francsco zoo. The zoo isn't even in the city. It is located near Lake Merced and Fort Fungston, which is a pretty large natural area. The area where SF zoo was built use to be filled with sand dunes in the early 20th century. Although, parts of the city was built over a landfill. I think you are talking about Daly City's Colma district, which was built over a land field. It is about a mile away from SF. The enclosures seems to be the same size as any other zoo I've been to. The cats are only in cages when they feed them. These cats do have a larger enclosure. Although, Marine World has a slightly larger habitat, the rides can be distracting as well. As a matter of fact, a tiger mauled a lady at Marine World several years ago. I don't think the reason why the woman was bitten was due to the size of the tiger's habitat though. The trainer probably did something to trigger the tiger's predatory instincts. Even though, SF's economy wasn't as good as before. I think SF's economy has pretty much stayed the same. The cost of living is still one the highest in the nation, although the prices have dropped slightly. I frequent San Jose and the economy seems to be booming. I use to go to drop by every weekend when I go to Great America. My aunt also works at the IBM company in San Jose, and Mercury News rocks. I'm actually going to San Jose tomorrow. =).