SF Zoo to remain closed on Thursday

A phalanx of motorcycle officers prepare to enter the San Francisco Zoo. <span class=meta>(AP)</span>
December 26, 2007 12:00:00 AM PST
The zoo was scheduled to reopen on Thursday. But the zoo's director told ABC7 News it's been such an emotional time that he decided to keep the zoo closed for another day.

Tonight, zoo officials completed a necropsy report on Tatiana. She is a Siberian tiger between 300 and 350 pounds that escaped her enclosure surrounded by a 20-foot moat and an 18-foot wall.

Reporter: "Can you tell us how many times it was shot?"

San Francisco Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo: "It appeared she was shot three times."

It was a chaotic Christmas day. There were still about 20 visitors at the zoo when police discovered the mauled body of 17-year old Carlos Sousa. Minutes later, they came across his 23-year-old friend and the friend's 19-year-old brother.

Both were in critical condition with claw wounds to their head neck, hands and arms.

"And the tiger was sitting next to the victim, and at one point it stopped and then it began to attack the victim again," said Sgt. Neville Gittens from San Francisco Police.

That's when four officers fired their 40 caliber handguns and killed the 4-year-old female tiger.

"It would appear to me that maybe she was loose for about 15 minutes," said Mollinedo.

Sousa is believed to be the first victim attacked just outside the tiger's grotto around 5 o'clock as the zoo was closing.

Police are investigating the possibility that the other two may also have been attacked there, and the big cat followed a blood trail, hunting down and mauling them some 300 yards away, outside the terrace cafe.

Tatiana is the same tiger that attacked her trainer during a feeding demonstration on Dec. 22nd of last year. The zoo was fined $18,000 dollars because the cages were inadequately configured.

"My staff is taking it very hard. I think we worked very hard to get the zoo's reputation up to a higher level, and a situation like this really can be quite devastating," said San Francisco Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo.

Tonight the surviving victims are in stable condition recovering at San Francisco General Hospital. The zoo says there are no surveillance cameras to help them understand how the tiger escaped, so they're asking witnesses to come forward with any information.

Meanwhile, the zoo and its staff have decided to take a breather before it reopens.

"The zoo will be closed on Thursday, and I hope that the community will bear with us until we can get everything righted at the zoo and we can reopen it," said Mollinedo.

The cause of the tiger's escape is still a mystery. While experts say it's impossible for that tiger to have escaped its enclosure, they are still going to re examine it and they are going to examine the possibility of human involvement.

If you have any information, please contact San Francisco Police at (415) 553-1141.


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