Thursday, December 27, 2007

Taunting Fate.....The Tiger Tale


First off I need to say that my son and I have spent many holidays at the Zoo, both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a tradition for many years.The Zoo in Seattle actually serves Thanksgiving Dinner, and the first time we went a nice smiling chef was cutting some sort of meat loaf at a serving table, and I remember 6-6's horrified face, " We aren't going to eat Anyone Who lives Here , Right???" The hatted Chef with the sharp knife laughed and said it was Turkey Loaf. My son still ate the Pasta. We used to always take Animal Crackers and juice boxes with us to the zoo, years later I found out from my son that this bothered him. People ask why did we go to the zoo on Holidays ? I always say because my son loved animals, ALL animals, that is who he wanted to spend the Holidays with.I always thought it funny, as at home 6-6 had a mini herd for years that we cared for, turtles,rabbits, skink, mice, dogs, cats,guinea pigs,a walkign stick etc etc. So for me, it was taking a break from our little herd to go spend the day with other animals....and for 6-6 it was sheer Heaven.

The Zoo was a place to Teach about animals, their habitats,family life, their geographical differences, and on another level a place to teach Compassion. The seasons became marked by time spent at the Zoo. Whether it was picking up ZooDoo for the garden, or taking pumpkins after Halloween for the Hippos, or watching the growth of Baby Elephants and Chimps, the Zoo was part of our Everyday Life and Holidays.

I have been seeing alot on the News about the Tiger Attack that happened in San Francisco on Christmas Night. I am very confused by this story, on so many levels. I am mostly disturbed that the News of course is trying to highlight the Horror and Angst of the Events, instead of asking some Good Questions.God forbid while there is still a Criminal Investigation Ongoing and Blood on the path that Someone should ask some Questions......

(1) What were these young men doing at the Zoo on Christmas Night ?
(2) Were and are they Animal Lovers ?
(3) Were there any Taunting Activities involved ?
(4) The Dad on an interview said that they "should not have been mauled for throwing rocks", my first thought was WHY would the Dad say that ? Did he know they were throwing Rocks ? He did talk to his sons on the phone, so maybe he does know something...I hope the Police do speak with him
(5) Were there other people at the Zoo at that time, were there Witnesses ?
(6) Where are the 911 tapes ? and why did it take the Police over 14 minutes to get to the site?
(7) Why didn't the Zoo have their own workers to deal with this crisis?
(8) Why is the Snack stand so close to the Tiger area ( just seems like a bad idea to have Smell Driven Beasts near Food and Food Aromas and the Smells of people eating and cooking.
(9) What was the health of the tigers, were there any problems.
(10) What is the story of the Height of the walls?
(11) Have any ZOO officials given Any Statements ? they should, and maybe I just missed it....

Those are merely some of my questions. What I worry is that Children are not being taught enough about this incident, that it will be just another way for the Media to feed their need to Fear Monger, instead of taking this opportunity to Teach Children and Adults about Animals.....their Behaviors, Needs and Problems as Wild Animals living in Captivity. IF the Event is hyped with Fear and not Compassion , what are we teaching......

15 comments:

D.K. Raed said...

Like you, I am confused over exactly what happened at the SF Zoo. I have a bad feeling we may never know. Years ago, I read John Irving's "Setting Free the Bears" which helped formulate my attitude -- (you can look up the title in wikipedia for a brief description). I know many zoos are performing an almost sacred duty to help endangered species, but I still feel bad about the old-fashioned ones with small stinky cages. And large animals like tigers are always going to be better off on a preserve than some small moated enclosure with people throwing shoes at them. I do cherish the insights into animals I gained at savannah-like places represented by The Wild Animal Park in San Diego, but I don't think I'll be visiting normal zoos again.

enigma4ever said...

I can not visit "normal" zoos, we went to the zoo in Seattle that was full of habitats designed for the animals....I just think there is much more to this story...and it is not all about the tiger...it is about Bigger Problems...

D.K. Raed said...

I was at that Seattle Zoo in 1976 or 77! I remember the Japanese Tea Garden. Also the humidity was oppressive. I have a treasured picture standing in front of a GIANT slug who was crawling up a tree while sweat was literally dripping off my face & body. Made me wonder if Seattle was always like a rain forest in the summer.

This tiger death is so upsetting. There simply has to be a lot more to the story. The tiger had been there for years & suddenly decides to do a most extraordinary leap & kill? There was no water in the moat, either. I'm wondering just how far the human had invaded the tiger's territory. And seeing as how everyone has cameras & recording equip for their zoo trips (not to mention the zoo's own security cams), I'm betting there are pictures that will shed light.

Fran said...

Wild animals are just that. The big cats look like overgrown domestic cats, but they are wild animals & normal wild animal behavior involves hunting, & capturing prey for survival. I am guessing they probably had a skeleton crew on staff for the holiday, especially around closing time. the big cats instinctively know to go for the jugular in their hunting, so the first person attacked, probably bled out quickly. the other two were away further up at a cafe.... this cat seemed to be tracking specific people, which leads me to believe there was some taunting going on.
This will cause zoo designers to have to redesign big cat habitats. It is a sad situation all around.

enigma4ever said...

I also have some real questions about the Moat- is that their drinking water- because it was empty....and that makes no sense....if it is also suposed to be a barrier- it should be filled.....not empty...

enigma4ever said...

oh one more thing , that the two victims are "belligerant" "uncooperative".....and refusing to talk to police....nice.....

Weaseldog said...

The moat is just there to add relative height to the wall and to encourage the tiger to stay in view.

If there were water, the tiger would swim in it and you'd have people leaning over the railings to see.

As I pointed out to my wife, you shouldn't taunt tigers with fresh meat. And that is what we are from their perspective.

enigma4ever said...

Thank you weasel....I know some moats are there for water ( in other zoos)...but I didn't know tigers swim...
but I still think that there are mistakes here...all the way round.....( and hearing today that a zookeeper had her arm shredded by Big Cats there last year- while feeding it fresh meat.....yikes..)

Blueberry said...

I used to enjoy going to the Zoo in St. Louis, but these days I really don't think that Zoos should have any purpose other than rescue or perhaps as a drastic means for helping endangered species to survive -- esp. since most of them are endangered because of human behavior.

The Austin Zoo is a rescue facility - taking in exotic pets, abused circus animals, animals rejected by regular zoos, and rescues from those roadside atrocity zoos.

I was really upset by this tiger's death (upset that there is human death as well, but this tiger did not put itself in that situation). It is just as much the victim in this case as the humans, maybe more.

enigma4ever said...

I hear you Blue...I too was upset..because I think he was either taunted or lured...or was that his feeding time ? there is some thing here that we are missing....

I think Zoos are very important- they Teach and help people learn to respect Animals- although I am not sure that is what these three were actually doing....NO ONE has come forward and said they love animals or they spend every Holiday at the zoo...etc....

Some zoos do amazing work caring for animals- protecting them and also helping to save them.....or do rescue work...BUT not all Zoos do good work, and some are so old that they are not safe...I do not know the SF zoo....but the footage of the habitat is worrisome on many levels....

There is a good article in TIME this week ( ooops or is Newsweek?) anyways the article is called "What a Tiger Sees" - check it out- it is very interesting and really explores HOW tigers see....and react...

enigma4ever said...

3pm on Saturday...
I am updating this Story tomorrow...I have alot of new information.....thanks.

Nona said...

The father of the man who died at the zoo, says that the two brothers lied to him and told him (when he asked) that his son had not been with them. Because of their lies, the father didn't know about his son's death until the next morning.

I gather that the brothers who survived have something to hide.

The bereaved father seems to believe that his son died trying to save the brothers who were his best friends.

I haven't visited a zoo for more than 30 years. My last visit was to the Los Angeles zoo and it made my heart ache to see the big cats pace back and forth behind their bars. Their emotional needs were not being met and when I left the zoo with my daughter, I wanted to cry and I wanted to protect her from seeing that kind of animal cruelty. Your son sounds like a wonderfully caring child. I think you must be a very proud mother.

I've heard that in intervening years, zookeepers have become more concerned with enriching the animals' environments, but still I can't help feeling that it isn't fair to keep them in captivity for teh entertainment of humans. We've destroyed much of their natural habitat and now we cage them in small areas of our habitat and expose them to abuse.

Many animals suffer in zoos - elephants in particular. In Defense of Animals based in the San Francisco Bay Area is trying to get all elephants out of zoos and into sanctuaries where they can live in family groups which is part of their natural desire.

And don't get me started on factory farms. Those are the worst kinds of torture for helpless animals.

I apologize if I'm being overly-emotional on this subject.

On the positive side, we visited Safari West a few years ago and had a wonderful experience there with two cheetahs. We rode atop a safari truck with the handlers who were taking the cheetahs out to open land for a romp. It's hard to explain how honored I felt to be in their presence. It was sort of a spiritual experience. Later during our visit, a lemur began to give birth and the keepers were very protective of her privacy. I was impressed that the humans were so careful to protect the animals in their care.

Dr. Marker works to protect cheetahs in Namibia by providing guard dogs to the farmers. The guard dogs protect the domestic animals from cheetah predation and the farmers are less inclined to harm the cheetahs. We enjoyed attending Dr. Marker's fund raiser at Safari West. I met her mother there and discovered that she is a neighbor of mine in Santa Cruz county.

In sad times like these, it helps to remember the kind and caring people.

enigma4ever said...

Hi NoNa, good to see you...I so appreciate your thoughts about zoos...my son and I are just as picky...
and it is because we want them to be safe and happy in the right environment....

About the Whole Tiger mess...it is now starting to look like there is more to the story..much...I will blog on it tomorrow...but it seems that the ZOO and the Police both made huge errors, and that the boys were labeled crazy partly due to a Language problem....
( they were coded that way by radio dispatch...)
and neither the police or the Zoo Patrols had the situation under any kind of control- and the bloody scene went on for 20 minutes....

The two surving boys are DESI- South Asian- and Hindi- therefore not trusting of police etc. and also their immigration status might be a problem, and they might have been told by their families to not speak to police ever...( I learned all of this by accident - I was reading an India paper about Bhutto and there was a whole article about the Tiger incident- and they explained all of these issues...and sure enough tonight the transcripts are out and the 800 "crazy" issue is in there ...

Anyways..the people at the snack bar were calling for help, but until others got involved they were treated badly- even when the one had a head wound....

that is all I know tonight- but that is very different then what we have heard on TV....and the zoo should not be open until all of this is resolved and reviewed- esp their own safety policies..

(and the other tidbit- the Paramedics would not go in until SOMEONE dealt with the situation- the police wanted them to go in, even though where the tiger was was unclear -can you imagine????)

I will post more on this in the next day or so.....pretty sad I had to go to foriegn papers to learn more..

Thank you for caring...

Nona said...

Enigma, thank you for following up on this sad event, sad for the non-human animal and as well as for the humans.

I found the following comments at SFGate and thought you might be interested for your upcoming article:

"The keeper, who spent decades at the zoo and asked not to be publicly identified, said he got the word about Siberian tigers - and the apparently inadequate 12 1/2-foot-high moat wall that protects the public from them - in a most dramatic fashion, not long after he began working at the zoo.

I was putting a sign up in front of the tiger exhibit, with my butt hanging over the edge," said the former keeper. "The cat was pacing back and forth at the bottom of the grotto."

The keeper said one of his more seasoned colleagues happened by, grabbed him by the belt loop and jerked him back, away from the edge.

...Another veteran keeper who still works at the zoo agreed that an excited, provoked or agitated animal can perform physical feats that would be impossible under normal circumstances.

"The barriers are always suspect in a situation like this," the keeper said. "Under ordinary circumstances, they would be adequate. If the animal was excited, if people started throwing things, it would be different...."

And this from the San Francisco Chronicle (which reflects my personal opinion):

The recent tiger attack in San Francisco has given a platform to animal rights activists, who say holding wild animals in captivity is cruel, for-profit entertainment and should be stopped.

Those who despise zoos - and not just PETA, though the group did join the chorus - say the attack proves that animals are unhappy and that zoos should be phased out.

"The major problem with zoos is they put the entertainment value at a higher priority than the welfare or well-being of the animals," said Elliot Katz, president of In Defense of Animals, a Mill Valley animal rights group. "Because elephants and tigers are big draws, the zoo creates dangerous situations."

Katz helped organize the effort to get the elephants removed from the San Francisco Zoo after obtaining medical records that showed they were being mistreated. He said that both elephants and tigers need much more space than the zoo provides.

Katz hopes the publicity from the Christmas Day mauling death of 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. will result in the removal of the tiger exhibit.

Lisa Soldavini, a 50-year-old animal rights activist from Petaluma, said she believes animals should not be kept in zoos because zoos do not treat them well. She said many people wrongly believe that the animals are provided enough space and are happy.

"We are brought up in a culture that says zoos are fun, but we should really be angry that these animals are taken out of their natural habitat so that people can gawk at them," she said. "This is done for profit, not education, and it's frustrating that the public doesn't get that. People can learn about wild animals by watching the excellent documentaries available on Discovery, Animal Planet and 'Wild Kingdom.' "

enigma4ever said...

this week it is now Jan 23,
the truth finally did come out- they were indeed taunting the cats and they were on the wall yelling and "waving to the cats " ( I still think that there were rocks thrown)...
and yes, they were drunk....

so there was indeed MUCH MORE to the Story....
there always is...