Friday, December 28, 2007

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Pending Lawsuit

Unbelievable that apparently the wall was 12 1/2 feet high rather than the recommended 16.4 feet.

Can you say lawsuit?

Can you say massive lawsuit with multiple defendants?

Zoo Director Says Tiger Wall Was Low

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The director of the zoo where a teenager was killed by an escaped tiger acknowledged Thursday that the wall around the animal's pen was just 12 1/2 feet high—well below the height recommended by the main accrediting agency for the nation's zoos.

According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the minimum recommended height for tiger exhibit walls is 16.4 feet.

San Francisco Zoo Director Manuel A. Mollinedo said safety inspectors had examined the nearly 70-year-old wall and never raised red flags about its size.

"When the AZA came out and inspected our zoo three years ago, they never noted that as a deficiency," Mollinedo said. "Obviously now that something's happened, we're going to be revisiting the actual height."

On Wednesday, Mollinedo said that the wall was 18 feet high and that the moat around the tiger's pen was 20 feet wide. On Thursday, he said the moat was 33 feet wide.

Investigators have yet to say how the 300-pound Siberian tiger got out of the open-air enclosure. But based on the initial estimates of the height of the wall, animal experts expressed disbelief that a tiger in captivity could have made such a spectacular leap.

The accrediting association did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday about the height of the wall.

The animal went on a rampage near closing time on Christmas Day, mauling three visitors before it was shot to death by police. Carlso Sousa Jr., 17, died and two brothers, ages 19 and 23, suffered severe bite and claw wounds.