Zebra found dead at SF Zoo

January 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
One of the zebras in the African Savannah exhibit was found dead at SF Zoo. A necropsy is being performed to understand why, but at this point, zoo officials aren't talking about this latest incident.

Lisa, a nearly 10-year-old Grant zebra, was found dead in her barn on Tuesday morning, three days after she became ill. Zoo brass are not talking about it, but a veterinarian who is a frequent critic of zoo policy, says we need to know if the animal had been treated properly.

"The media needs to see the medical records, the symptoms... who they called, what they did, and an independent necropsy so that there is not some sort of cover up," says Elliot Katz, DVM, with In Defense of Animals.

During the last four years, new exhibits have opened that have proven to be quite popular bringing increased attendance. However, there is also concern about the number of animals that have died. Some raise the question of whether the zoo is safe for animals and humans.

The zebra's death follows those of three of the four elephants, a hippopotamus, black swans, and parakeets. Zoo officials have insisted care is a top priority like the African Savannah exhibit, which opened in 2004, and was partially financed by voters who approved $48 million dollars in bonds.

"They have not used the money properly," says Katz.

"Frankly, they seem to be spending their money very wisely. They are using it in a way to pull people into the zoo, and in a way that respects the animals and gives them a really wonderful habitat," says San Francisco Supervisor.Michela Alioto-Pier.

However, it's also a place where a tiger killed a visitor. There have been other close calls which raise questions about the zoo's safety.

"I'm confident in the safety of the zoo. I think there is not a zoo in the United States that doesn't have close calls," says Mayor Newsom.

"I think right now the zoo has a microscope on them. After the tiger incident, we're not letting anything go by," says Supervisor Alioto-Pier.

Information on the cause of death is expected to made public on Wednesday.