S.F. Zoo gets ready to re-open

January 2, 2008 7:39:06 PM PST
The zoo plans to re-open on Thursday and is putting a number of security measures in place to make sure a tiger will never escape again.

The zoo director showed reporters a drawing today of a seven foot tall Plexiglas partition that will surround the tiger exhibit.

The tiger exhibit remains closed and the police investigation continues and today ABC7 News got an inside look at the tiger's grotto.

The tiger enclosure is still shut down to the public, but you can see the area where Tatiana roamed, and the moat separating that area from the public viewing spot.

Somehow she jumped over a moat, breaking the bamboo plants along the low fencing where the victims were standing; steps that the tiger took that have brought change.

"When people come here tomorrow the zoo is going to be safe," said San Francisco Zoo director Manuel Mollinedo.

Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo tried to assure visitors the place is secure. This is part of the big PR buildup to restore confidence after the fatal attack.

Mollinedo showed plans for the new security at the tiger enclosure. A glass wall is being added to the barrier at the viewing area, which will increase the wall to 19 feet. Everything will be above the recommendations, which had been below standards.

"I feel really confident that this is going to be excellent for containment," said Mollinedo.

There is no estimate of how much it will cost, but construction has already begun. He says it will be finished in 30 days and then the big cats can come outside. They are also posting signs around the park that say protect the animals.

But it's not about animal actions, it's about human behaviors.

"Advising people that the zoo is a museum with a living collection and it such that it should be respectful of the animals that we have at the San Francisco Zoo," said Mollinedo.

The signs seem to fuel speculation about what happened, actions that only the injured brothers can answer.

"All I know is that something happened to provoke that tiger to leave out of her exhibit and police is investigating," said Mollinedo.

Mark Geragos, the attorney for the two brothers is charging that there was a 30-minute delay in zoo staff in calling 911.

"My staff reported to the police and to the fire department what they knew at the time," said Mollinedo.

When visitors show up tomorrow, inside the entrance there will be a memorial to drop off condolences to the Sousa family, whose son Carlos died, and remembrances of Tatiana the tiger.