Join 3,438 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Man killed by escaped tiger at San Francisco Zoo
December 25, 2007 9:58 PM   Subscribe

One man was killed and two others critically injured when Siberian tiger Tatiana escaped from her pen at the San Francisco Zoo. The men were eating at a cafe on the Ocean Boulevard end of the zoo. The tiger was shot to death by police at the scene. Tatiana, allegedly not known for violence, mauled her keeper one year and three days ago, after which the Lion House was closed for ten months for a $250,000 safety upgrade. It reopened in September, 2007.
posted by rednikki (149 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I woulda given it a medal.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 10:11 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


yay tiger
posted by bhnyc at 10:12 PM on December 25, 2007


Getting eaten in a cafe.The irony is deafening.
posted by troika at 10:12 PM on December 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


As a child, I loved zoos. As an adult, not so much.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:29 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not known for violence?

She (was) a fucking tiger. As in, giant fucking predator with big fucking teeth and six-inch claws. This is not a cuddly kitty-cat. This is a whole lot of violence and blood wrapped up in a coiled spring. Wtf.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:29 PM on December 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


She (was) a fucking tiger. As in, giant fucking predator with big fucking teeth and six-inch claws. This is not a cuddly kitty-cat. This is a whole lot of violence and blood wrapped up in a coiled spring. Wtf.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:29 PM on December 26 [+] [!]

Agreed. She was so money, and she didn't even know it.
posted by bluejayk at 10:30 PM on December 25, 2007


[NOT TIGERIST]
posted by XMLicious at 10:30 PM on December 25, 2007


My comment copied from metachat:

A similar thing happened around here a while back, except with a gorilla.

I despise zoos. There's no reason wild animals should be put in enclosures solely for the amusement of the gawking masses. Of course a tiger will flip out and kill people, it's a fucking tiger. It shouldn't even be there.

Don't even get me started on circuses.
posted by puke & cry at 10:32 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


troika: Getting eaten in a cafe.The irony is deafening.

This wouldn't be ironic even if the victims had been eating meat instead or, say, drinking coffee.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:33 PM on December 25, 2007


I woulda given it a medal.
yay tiger

Creepy. I mean, you're celebrating people being killed in random accidents? WTF?
posted by delmoi at 10:37 PM on December 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


I feel old and cranky just typing this, but it is not particularly hilarious that someone was mauled to death on Christmas Day.
posted by Epenthesis at 10:37 PM on December 25, 2007 [8 favorites]


It's sad. The animal activist in me says " Go Tiger Go"... But the parent in me says "No Tiger No!"
posted by amyms at 10:39 PM on December 25, 2007


Props to the security guys. I would NOT want to take on a pissed-off tiger in a cafe with only a handgun.
posted by panamax at 10:41 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not like the deceased was hunting the tiger, in which case I would have little sympathy.

But you don't want to sit down for a cup a joe and have a huge freakin' cat leap out and maul you. That's not even supposed to be an option.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:46 PM on December 25, 2007 [8 favorites]


Actually, Astro Zombie, that kinda sounds like morning coffee at our house if Spike and Giles are in a playful mood...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:48 PM on December 25, 2007


OK, copying my reply to puke & cry from metachat:

Of course zoos do a lot of good conservation work and exist for education as well as "gawking". A lot of zoos do an excellent job of care and their animals receive nutritious diets and veterinary care rivaling any human system. And I just have this sense that if I agree that zoos are inherently immoral, then so is owning my cat.

But I do agree with "Of course a tiger will flip out and kill people". (Struck because I don't think it flipped out in any meaningful sense of the word. It went hunting.) The job of the zoo is to make sure it doesn't get the chance, ever.

I'm surprised that the cops did the job. Wouldn't the zoo have trained professionals?
posted by dhartung at 10:54 PM on December 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


So do authorities ever consider, I don't know, maybe tranquilizing the animal? Because what I'm thinking is that once the animal has killed that gives people free reign to put a cap in that ass with impunity.
posted by puke & cry at 10:55 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Of course a tiger will flip out and kill people

Dude, is it a tiger, or a ninja?

Get your facts straight.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:56 PM on December 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


dhartung: Actually the owning a cat thing did cross my mind while my reply was circling around in my head. I ended up figuring that there are so many layers of differences between owning a long domesticated animal (rescued from the cold rain, in my case) and sticking non-domesticated, wild animals in enclosures for public viewing that it doesn't concern me.

And yeah, I got the flipping out and killing people thing from the ninjas. Less of an actual description and more of a generalization. I don't think it flipped out either.
posted by puke & cry at 11:08 PM on December 25, 2007


Sadly, this isn't that suprising. SF Zoo is pretty crappy (housing tropical and equatorial animals in a geographical location where it's perpetually foggy, windy and cold - what genius came up with that idea?) and from what I've been told by friends of mine who are "in the know", they have a shockingly high rate of mortality for their animals. Apparently, at one point some years back they were at risk for losing accreditation because of the bad conditions and mismanagement.
posted by echolalia67 at 11:13 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


The moat + wall security system is fairly common at zoos (see also: every single animal at the San Diego Zoo). How many of these are actually just zookeepers hoping the animals are operating on the honor system?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:13 PM on December 25, 2007


If you're going to quote what other people said, please leave out the 'posted by...' line. Maybe italicize the text, the way almost everyone else does here. If you feel the need to attribute, do it by hand or use one of the Metafilter Greasemonkey scripts. Thank you kindly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:21 PM on December 25, 2007


tatiana, allegedly not known for violence, mauled her keeper one year and three days ago...

it's always the quiet ones that snap, just like in the post office.
posted by bruce at 11:48 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah I have a kind of tolerance for zoos. Part of me is disgusted with the idea, but part of me knows that in 20 years they are going to be the only places on the planet where tigers can survive.
posted by Jimbob at 12:11 AM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


The animal activist in me says " Go Tiger Go"...But the parent in me says "No Tiger No!"

what the fuck does this even mean? you're part "animal activist" so you you're sort of rooting for... what? a tiger killing a human being on christmas day and then being itself killed? well, sis boom bah. gooooo tigers! you are the cheerleader of the damned.
posted by Hat Maui at 12:23 AM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Rawr. That was a fierce tiger.

. and >.<
posted by Artw at 12:25 AM on December 26, 2007


I have to agree that that cheering for a tiger mauling people is pretty fucked up. I've already stated my opinion on animals in captivity, but there aren't any winners here. A tiger being confined for human amusement, innocent people being mauled by a wild animal. This whole thing is fucked up.
posted by puke & cry at 12:36 AM on December 26, 2007


But you don't want to sit down for a cup a joe and have a huge freakin' cat leap out and maul you. That's not even supposed to be an option.

Oh, god! I think it SHOULD be an option. Adds a little spice to life. I want there to be an option at the mall, determined by a random number generator, that every now and then an enraged purple-assed mandrill jumps out from the janitor's closet and takes a chunk out of someone's buttock, run's rampant thru the shoppers brandishing bloodstained sport coat. I'd buy a lot of stock in chainmail.

'oh this is a terrible thing to happen on christmas!' - when would you like it to happen? If it is a sad occurrence today, then it should be a sad occurrence on any day. The level of sorrow you feel, if genuine, should not be scaled according to arbitrary calendric determinants. Ya big phonies!

There is no appropriate emotional response to this, at this remove. I would question anyone's honesty if they said they felt genuine sorrow at reading this story. Unless your mom was attacked by Kimba at the safari park when you were a kid and you're having a flashback, the normal response to this story is probably to giggle. Don't kid me around, it has been established that human beings aren't capable of that kind of intense empathy for people outside a small intimate tribal group.

I would like to create a measured scale of responses by internet denizens to this, some falling into the amused, some into the mock shock categories, and some feeling sorry for the tiger. The only thing it would reveal is the amount of pressure the commenter felt from peer group attitudes, not their actual ability to feel empathy.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 1:02 AM on December 26, 2007 [9 favorites]


I wouldn't question anyone's capacity to spew self-justifying bullshit if they announced that there was no appropriate emotional response to this story and then proceeded to assert that it's scientifically impossible to not laugh at it.
posted by XMLicious at 1:15 AM on December 26, 2007 [11 favorites]


the normal response to this story is probably to giggle.

Errr no...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:30 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some of you are pretty close to turning into Fred Phelps. You gotta start watching yourself any time you find yourself saying, "yay, someone died, proving me right!"
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 1:32 AM on December 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


'oh this is a terrible thing to happen on christmas!' - when would you like it to happen? If it is a sad occurrence today, then it should be a sad occurrence on any day. The level of sorrow you feel, if genuine, should not be scaled according to arbitrary calendric determinants. Ya big phonies!

Emotionally-normal humans vary in empathy from time to time. This does not make them "phony", any more than, say, finding an episode of a TV show kind of dull today and hilariously amusing next week makes them "phony". Sadness is an emotion, and emotions change from time to time. One of the attributes of Christmas is that it is a time to exercise and express emotional closeness with family and friends; ie, even people who do not normally do this much, are culturally encouraged to do so at this time.

Therefore, sad occurrences at Christmas are experienced by emotionally-normal humans as more sad.

Don't kid me around,

Interesting turn of phrase. It indicates that you are inclined to characterize the behavior of emotionally-normal humans as an attempt to deceive you personally.

it has been established that human beings aren't capable of that kind of intense empathy for people outside a small intimate tribal group.

This assertion is factually wrong, and also is likely to be interpreted by emotionally-normal humans as a deliberate attempt to be unpleasant and offensive. Emotionally-normal humans are more likely to feel greater empathy for those they perceive as more like themselves (this is to some extent tautological; empathy is largely emotion-modelling and therefore, obviously, easier to the extent that the person modelled is like oneself). Note that there is a distinction between feeling empathy, and feeling a desire to show altruism: humans are quite capable of empathizing with--emotionally modelling--those they desire to inflict harm on, and conversely, are quite capable of altruistically assisting those they feel no particular empathy for.

I would like to create a measured scale of responses by internet denizens to this, some falling into the amused, some into the mock shock categories, and some feeling sorry for the tiger. The only thing it would reveal is the amount of pressure the commenter felt from peer group attitudes, not their actual ability to feel empathy.

As you are clearly not an emotionally-normal human, such a scale constructed by you would have the validity and sense of, say, a music categorizing system constructed by someone stone deaf. You can go a fair way with the color and text font and image choices on CD packing, and the names of bands, albums, and songs, but realistically, this would be a task that is doomed to failure due to your incapacity to carry it out, and would likely alienate emotionally-normal humans from you even further.

I strongly recommend you redesign your working model of the emotionally-normal human mind. If you keep using the one you have, you will be even further ostracized from the human group, and while you currently only have a slight understanding of them, and seem to have chosen to view them with supercilious contempt, humans have a great capacity to both help and harm you.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:35 AM on December 26, 2007 [29 favorites]


About five hours north of me, in Harbin, there is a tiger park with about 200 tigers running around. You can pay 200 yuan to see them eat their dinner. You get into a bus and with other busses forming a circle around a group of tigers, you stop and wait for an armored van to come out and open its back door and unload a few chickens and a cow. The chickens are like mosquitoes to them. They advertised the "attraction" as "撕开牛" (ripping apart a cow). The chickens disappeared in a cloud of feathers. I was a little disappointed with the cow though. The biggest tiger just pounced on the cow, bit into its throat, and sucked it's blood for twenty minutes. Then the other tigers crowded around and I couldn't see much after that.

They are native to the mountains around where I live. Luckily people don't see them too often.

I got to pet a tiger at a zoo once in Changchun. Standing next to it with my hand on its back, I was reflecting how this seven foot long bundle of lean muscle and teeth and claws could shred me in seconds. Having studied martial arts, I wondered for a second if I could escape it. What a laugh. If a tiger came at me, I guess the best I could do would be to give it a clear shot at my neck, just so it would be over fast.
posted by strangeguitars at 1:49 AM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


I have to give it to you though, aeschenkarnos, that's the most pendantic, pedagogical comment of oblivious self importance I've read on the Blue in quite some time.
posted by rhizome23 at 2:25 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks to you guys, I had to spend all morning explaining to our cats why this is not appropriate social behavior.

They all thought it was a laugh riot, and even funnier because it was christmas. I had to explain that it wasn't funny and they should not aspire to eat people who are having lunch at the Rainforest cafe at the zoo.

They don't seem to be listening and have all asked to go to the zoo on their birthday.

In fact, they now think the zoo is something completely different than it really is. Some sort of cat buffet or something.. Not helpful.
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:28 AM on December 26, 2007 [11 favorites]


Last I checked, tigers were endangered, and humans are to blame. I'm quite fond of tigers, but they are indeed scary, much more so than lions. Your pardon if I find it a sad misfortune that the tiger lost her life. Clearly it would have been best if neither tiger nor human were harmed.
posted by Goofyy at 3:13 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


As a parent with a membership at the SF Zoo, I find both the incident and the "yay, a tiger killed a guy!" responses appalling.

We go to the SF Zoo a few times a year, though less often now that our kids are older. Parts of the zoo are old-school-zoo bad, but many other parts are new and seem quite humane. The tiger pits were somewhere in between, but undoubtedly cruel in sense that keeping any large predator in a small enclosure is cruel.

Maybe being killed by a tiger at a zoo is just the chance you take when you visit a zoo with tigers, but for most of us, the huge presumption is that this sort of thing just doesn't happen. I can understand being cavalier about this in the abstract, but I can't understand finding enjoyment in the real-life mauling death of a random zoo patron.

I am saddened by all aspects of this story, and baffled by some of the responses in this thread.
posted by mosk at 3:13 AM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


1) My sympathies go out to the human victims and their friends and families.
2) It is a pity that a tiger lost her life for no greater sin than following her natural hunting instincts.
3) A world in which a 21st-century American can suddenly find himself in danger of being attacked by a wild animal native to a completely different continent is more unpredictable, and therefore interesting, than a world in which this cannot happen.

There, I think that covers all the bases.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:23 AM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


You people are fucking ridiculous for moralizing and ethically projecting on this event. Fucking ridiculous. If you're so sensitive about animal rights, rail against the socially institutionalized concept of a Zoo. You're all retarded children, and I don't love you due to that fact.
posted by rhizome23 at 3:34 AM on December 26, 2007


Wonder if we'll see any copycats?

*forbids Siamese from reading post*
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:35 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Unless you're loaded. Then we can talk...
posted by rhizome23 at 3:38 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't kid me around, it has been established that human beings aren't capable of that kind of intense empathy for people outside a small intimate tribal group.

...
posted by Firas at 3:38 AM on December 26, 2007


This incidence made me remember the late, totally bonkers, John Aspinall, who managed to have five of his zoo keepers killed by his animals... how the hell did he get any staff?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:08 AM on December 26, 2007


rhizome23 I have to give it to you though, aeschenkarnos, that's the most pendantic, pedagogical comment of oblivious self importance I've read on the Blue in quite some time.

Good, I wrote it in the voice of an over-the-top autistic sociopath on purpose; I was aiming it at Henry C. Mabuse, who wrote this and this. I should have made it more clear that it was aimed at satirizing him. Oh well.

What I think, to put it like a normal decent person would, is: of course we really think it's horrible and sad, we think it's all the worse because it's happened on Christmas, and we genuinely do have that opinion regardless of "what we think other people might think of us for having it". What Henry had to say about the article, and about other people's reactions to it, is cruel if it's trolling, disturbed if it's not, and he deserves to be called on it either way. I agreed with XMLicious, but I also wanted to put my own shot in. I like to do that from time to time. And obviously, so do you.

I agree even more with what mosk said.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:12 AM on December 26, 2007



You people are fucking ridiculous for moralizing and ethically projecting on this event. Fucking ridiculous. If you're so sensitive about animal rights, rail against the socially institutionalized concept of a Zoo. You're all retarded children, and I don't love you due to that fact.


Thanks, next time I have an emotional response to something I'll be sure to check in with you to see if it's a real response or 'projecting' according to your personal standards, rhizome. We may be 'retarded children' but you're just an ass.
posted by miss tea at 4:15 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


My sympathies to his friends and family.

Whoa... what a way to go, eh? Poor guy...

I do a lot of running on the trails around AZ and occasionally -- albeit not very often -- people are attacked by mountain lions out here. For those of you craving that kind of cat attack action, it's actually available if you play outside in the southwest. (Those of you further north will have to stick to fighting deer or getting mauled by bears or something...) I mean... what can you really do to protect yourself? Would even help to have an action plan in the event of a tiger attack, or is that just one of those things you either survive or you don't?

'Course... for those of you morbidly curious about deaths at the zoo, then the definitive work is probably Zoo Deaths, an issue of that old 'zine, Murder Can Be Fun. Dunno where you can find it, but the author does a fair amount of research compiling the various ways people have met their ends at zoo's.
posted by ph00dz at 4:29 AM on December 26, 2007


Henry's an Aspie. Every so often he goes out of his way to prove this.
posted by Wolof at 4:31 AM on December 26, 2007


ph00dz -- if I had a stick, I'd have a fighting chance against a mountain lion, but a tiger? Just eat me fast, please. There's just no way. You should see a tiger up close sometime. Like touching it. Very scary.

That's a pretty horrible way to die.
posted by strangeguitars at 4:48 AM on December 26, 2007


These days I'm starting to want "digg down" buttons on MetaFilter.
posted by chips ahoy at 5:26 AM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


If I had to die, I'd rather get eaten by a tiger at the zoo than say, die a slow death of cancer or fall off a stepladder.

In fact, It's pretty high up there with preferred deaths, along with getting eaten by a volcano god and explosive decompression.

Don't get me wrong, it's tragic, both for the guy the tiger getting a taste of horrible freedom.. And probably the dudes who run the cafe..

Horrible would be something nobody remembered or cared about..

And probably slower. And not at the zoo.
posted by Lord_Pall at 5:28 AM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Plus, at least you die surprised.
posted by Lord_Pall at 5:29 AM on December 26, 2007


By a tiger these three guys,
Were mauled, on Christmas Day

posted by Flashman at 5:35 AM on December 26, 2007


cheering for a tiger mauling people is pretty fucked up

I bet not one person in this thread that is rooting for the tiger has ever had a friend killed before their eyes by a big cat in a San Francisco cafe. It is a dreadful experience. It takes an immortal hand or an immortal eye to really grasp what just happened at the SF zoo.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:46 AM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


As per Koko's statement, but slightly broader, has anyone known anyone who got eaten by a wild animal?

Just morbidly curious.
posted by Lord_Pall at 5:52 AM on December 26, 2007


Only on MeFi would you expect to see people cheering over the death of an innocent human being. "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys is right.
posted by caddis at 6:03 AM on December 26, 2007


This really puts the toothache I woke up with this morning in perspective.
posted by localroger at 6:06 AM on December 26, 2007


The men were eating at a cafe on the Ocean Boulevard end of the zoo.

So was the tiger.
posted by zorro astor at 6:10 AM on December 26, 2007 [5 favorites]


Some of you are pretty close to turning into Fred Phelps.

Tigers are God's retribution against the San Francisco fags?
posted by chlorus at 6:31 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Some of you are pretty close to turning into Fred Phelps.

Tigers are God's retribution against the San Francisco fags?"


godeatsfags.com is available.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:36 AM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Only on MeFi would you expect to see people cheering over the death of an innocent human being.

My first thought when reading the accounts was whether there was some prankish attempt to liberate the tiger from its enclosure: 'hey, it's Christmas!' Occam's Razor says 'zoo fucked up', but I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out otherwise.
posted by holgate at 6:45 AM on December 26, 2007


Hmmm... this strikes me as oddly similar to a rap that Henry Rollins made at the end of his most recent show here in Madison, WI. Basically, make life more interesting by spreading wild and dangerous animals throughout the US to make us value our lives just a little bit more.

Cuz... you could get mauled by a bear at any time y'know.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 6:57 AM on December 26, 2007


Evening spreads in my spirit and I keep thinking
that the tiger I am calling up in my poem
is a tiger made of symbols and of shadows,
a set of literary images,
scraps remembered from encyclopedias,
and not the deadly tiger, the fateful jewel
that in the sun or the deceptive moonlight
follows its paths, in Bengal or Sumatra,
of love, of indolence, of dying.

J.L. Borges, translated by Alastair Reid.
posted by ersatz at 7:03 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, a few days before the tiger broke out of the zoo to kill someone in S.F., someone broke into a zoo to kill a tiger in China.
posted by Atreides at 7:04 AM on December 26, 2007


I can haz yur latte?
posted by toastchee at 7:06 AM on December 26, 2007 [6 favorites]


Just over a year ago a tiger escaped and was then shot at Lowery Park Zoo in Tampa. Here is that story and here is zoo story a multi part article about Lowery Park Zoo published by the award winning Saint Petersburg Times.
posted by HappyHippo at 7:10 AM on December 26, 2007


This is a horrible, horrible story...but I have to admit I did think that is gonna be one heckuva insurance report to fill out.
posted by konolia at 7:16 AM on December 26, 2007


The zoo will be closed Wednesday as investigators try to determine how Tatiana escaped her enclosure, which was reinforced after the cat's first attack two days before Christmas last year.

I would like to propose that Tatiana was merely a conduit for America's tenuous grip on mental health at this time of year. How many of you haven't wanted to maul at least one person this week?
posted by nosila at 7:55 AM on December 26, 2007


the normal response to this story is probably to giggle.

No. Giggling would be the appropriate response if the cat had escaped, made it's way into the cafe, and started calmly and peacefully licking the guys coffee out of his cup. The guy shooing the cat away, and both living and going home that night.

What I read was some poor random dude getting killed by an endangered animal who was also killed. I've got a pretty fucked up sense of humor, but I just can't bring myself to get a lot of laughs out of this. Now tell me that the guy was known for going on safaris and killing tigers, and you have me. But Joe-businessman? Nope. Not funny.

You're all retarded children, and I don't love you due to that fact.

Thanks for that. I always wondered why I wasn't loved, now I know, and I can finally rest easy.
posted by quin at 8:34 AM on December 26, 2007


He shouldn't have left the boat.
posted by Koko at 8:37 AM on December 26, 2007


Not cool to cheer for the tiger for killing people, but cool because we have something to talk about it. Yay!
posted by iamck at 9:03 AM on December 26, 2007


"That tiger didn't go crazy...that tiger went tiger!"
-Chris Rock
posted by vito90 at 9:04 AM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Interestingly enough, treatment of the tigers at the SF Zoo has put me off zoos for more than a decade now, granted I wasn't much into them in the first place. In the late 1990s, had a random day off from work, against my better judgement I went down to the zoo on the suggestion of a friend. Watched in the tiger cage area at feeding time as one of the zoo staff, a male, extensively teased one of the tigers with it's meal, a rather large piece of meat. The zoo staff person seemed rather pleased with themselves and amused that it could tease the tiger and seeing that made me very angry and kind of sick. It was cruel and painful to watch this evil man and be witness to the pleasure and amusement he derived from his sadistic taunting. What sort of idiot would be so mean as to tease a caged animal? This is the best they could do for a "professional" keeper?

If this guy is still working at the zoo, I'll bet his "handling" is what set this poor creature off.

This incident is a good reason to shut down most zoos and start leaving the animals in their natural wild habitat ... but sadly, this will never happen...
posted by kuppajava at 9:21 AM on December 26, 2007


If there's anything we can be grateful for, it's that there's not a video of this (and hopefully there won't be) to entertain the snarkists. If we've already passed the point of Web 2.0, my guess is that Web 3.0 will be that all online content is filtered through the extreme-sports-bloopers mindset.
posted by troybob at 9:24 AM on December 26, 2007


What tiger wouldn't do that, though, given the chance? They're big strong animals that are very good at killing things. An unarmed human makes for very easy prey.

Mostly the whole thing makes me sad: sad that we've so wrecked the world that we have to keep tigers in zoos, sad that the zoos are ill-equipped to handle tigers, sad that an endangered animal and a person both wound up dead because of the above.

But there's a bit of me that, every time I'm around a big badass animal at a zoo, is fascinated by the realization that the animal could demolish me in about half a second, if it had the chance. Maybe that's why we like seeing these critters - everyone knows a tiger is much more of a crowd draw than a goat.
posted by cmyk at 9:24 AM on December 26, 2007


I went to the Denver zoo with a friend and his three year old daughter. I got a little ahead of them and found myself in a crowd watching a jaguar pacing back and forth on a ten foot stretch of concrete at ground level behind a wall of glass. Its eyes were glaring at absolutely nothing, and its motions were as repetitious as the rotation of a bicycle wheel. Its pacing speed was a bit slower than my best sprint, I found myself thinking, and it was clearly completely insane.

When my friend caught up, his daughter pushed through the wall of adult legs and went into the railed off area in front of the glass and started running back and forth acting out some daydream, oblivious to the jaguar. The moment she appeared, the jaguar stopped so dead in mid-pace it was as if that massively muscled body were weightless as cardboard, and during the thirty seconds or so it took my friend to break out of his shock sufficiently to reach over the rail and snatch her away (mildly straining his back, as it turned out) the jaguar tracked every smallest move she made as faithfully and without time lag as if the glass of the cage had been a mirror out of a nightmare. All conversation in the crowd had stopped instantly and utterly-- I doubt very many of us even breathed-- and it took the rest of the afternoon for the color to come back into my friend's face.
posted by jamjam at 9:33 AM on December 26, 2007 [10 favorites]


kuppajava, I'd be curious as to whether there is actually a legitimate rationale for what you witnessed. What you viewed as sadistic might be considered a kind of play for the tigers; or maybe it's not a good idea somehow to just plop food down in front of a predatory animal like it's a tv dinner. I would see it as cruel if they intentionally starved the animal for an extended time before doing that, but for a regular feeding, there might be legitimate or at least harmless reasons that make sense in the tiger universe.

And if I had a choice between going to see a tiger or going to hang out with a bunch of goats, I'd totally go for the goats!
posted by troybob at 9:35 AM on December 26, 2007


a man is dead and a rare vanishing animal is dead. why are we cheering? granting that its human vs tiger - both sides lost. this is all sorts of sad :(

re: zoos - im very torn. they are no doubt torture for the animals in them. MILES and miles of natural roaming capped at a few thousand square feet? but then - breeding programs, raising public awareness/concern, etc. its a difficult question for me.
posted by nihlton at 9:51 AM on December 26, 2007


kuppajava: An account of a lion feeding. Modern zookeeping practice includes creating stimulation for the animals by adding challenges to their feeding. It also creates opportunities for exercise.

(I give my cat a treat that I put inside a plastic ball with a hole in it. He has to roll it around the room to get it out. Am I cruel? He seems to enjoy the hell out of the experience, personally.)

Per jamjam's "pacing" story, pacing is considered an actual sign of an understimulated animal.
posted by dhartung at 9:54 AM on December 26, 2007


The thing about having predators in a zoo is that, no matter how well one cares for them, or how outstanding a habitat is built, they are predators. They must hunt to be what they are, and to take that away creates profound negative effects in the animal. This tiger saw an opportunity, and acted as a tiger. With tragic results, but like somebody mentioned upthread, that tiger just went tiger.

I'm mostly sad, as has been said, that we've fucked up the world so much that we have to try and preserve endangered species by putting them in cages and destroy their ability to be what they are. This is a terrible thing that happened, all around.

As for the immaturity in the thread, and various responses to it, I guess I just don't take what people say in internet discussion threads (even on Metafilter) that seriously--most of what I've found offensive in the past was more often than not just glib and poorly considered.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:01 AM on December 26, 2007


What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

To me Zoos have always seemed at their heart like an expression of dominance, especially when it comes to predators. "Heres an animal that can, and if it got a taste for humans, probably would kill you, in a cage for your enjoyment". I suppose the better ones do fund conservation and restoration efforts, but still.

As for this story, Chris Rock said it best "That tiger didn't go crazy, that tiger went TIGER!".
posted by Grimgrin at 10:12 AM on December 26, 2007


jamjam, My friend's father used to be the mammal curator at the zoo in Seattle, and used to give us "backstage tours" after hours. My experience in the cat house can be summarized as such: Jaguars are fucking creepy. It was pretty much exactly as you described, except we were in the room with them.

In your normal zoo experience, you are still quite removed from the animals. They seem somewhat docile, and when you really think about it, most of us rarely, if ever have any contact with true wild animals. Maybe a deer, possum or raccoon. Coyotes in some places. Having that up close experience with the animals assured me of one thing. They are not tame.

I also got to get up close and personal with a baby elephant which is one of the coolest experiences of my entire life, hands down.

I do know that my friend's dad loved those animals as if they were his own kids, and 5 minutes with him will convince you of the benefit of having zoos. I also know that reading this story probably made him cry for the tiger and the people and the zoo.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:30 AM on December 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


puke & cry: There's no reason wild animals should be put in enclosures solely for the amusement of the gawking masses

What if they were captured because they were injured and could no longer survive in the wild? Is it better to be in a zoo or to die a painful, lingering death? What if the species is endangered and can only survive in captivity? What if the parent animals were captured illegally and bred as pets, then rescued? What if the animals were born in captivity? Then they don't know how to survive in the wild. It's very uncommon for zoo animals to simply be captured

How many people would actually see a tiger or gorilla if not for zoos? I think it's a lot easier to raise money to save endangered species if people can actually see the species they're saving. Also, zoo animals don't have to hunt or compete for food, nor are they prey for other species.
posted by desjardins at 10:56 AM on December 26, 2007


My first thought was "Why on earth did they kill the tiger?". My second thought is "How totally incompetent can a zoo be if, not only did their tiger get out, but that the Police could get there and kill it before they managed to get hold of a tranquilizer gun and control the situation".

The men getting hurt and killed is inexcusable,. But not of the tiger, of the zoo administration. The fact that the tiger got killed through their immense incompetence (twice) is even more inexcusable. The zoo staff are potentially criminally negligent, but the tiger did nothing wrong at all.

I'm still utterly amazed that it didn't get tranquilized within 5 minutes or less of escaping. And that the police are the only ones being mentioned as having swept the zoo for any further issues. They aren't trained to deal with escaped wild animals. You'd expect a zoo to be full of people like that, would you not?
posted by Brockles at 10:57 AM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's no reason wild animals should be put in enclosures solely for the amusement of the gawking masses

What if they were captured because they were injured and could no longer survive in the wild? Is it better to be in a zoo or to die a painful, lingering death? What if the species is endangered and can only survive in captivity?


I think the word that sticks out to me is 'solely'. If it is solely then he's right. If there's more to it then zoo's have a place. But (in my mind) only as a last resort to local education and natively installed programmes (like the Borneo Orang Utan programme).
posted by Brockles at 10:59 AM on December 26, 2007


Regarding the capture aspect, note that about 99% of animals in zoos were born in zoos.
posted by dhartung at 11:06 AM on December 26, 2007


There's no reason wild animals should be put in enclosures solely for the amusement of the gawking masses.

What about straw men? Should the straw men be kept in zoos solely for the amusement of the gawking masses?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:09 AM on December 26, 2007


When people say they are opposed to straw men arguments, I ask them why they are arguing that we should legally silence everyone who argues in a manner that they don't like.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:29 AM on December 26, 2007


Because straw men killed my father.
posted by quin at 11:37 AM on December 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


And we all know what I once did to a straw man in reno.

on preview: There's Cabaret on tv "A tiger is a tiger, not a lamb.
Mein Herr."

posted by ersatz at 11:53 AM on December 26, 2007


dirigibleman, so you think a lot of animals aren't in zoos so people can look at them? Because I seriously doubt I'm overstating anything.
posted by puke & cry at 11:56 AM on December 26, 2007


Police: San Francisco Tiger Attack May Have Been Provoked.
posted by ericb at 12:05 PM on December 26, 2007


It seems like even straw men could break out of this zoo

The zoo's director of animal care and conservation, Robert Jenkins, said: "There was no way out through the door.

"The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leaped out of the enclosure."




"What do you mean tigers can jump?"
posted by fullerine at 12:05 PM on December 26, 2007


“The two survivors were upgraded from serious to stable condition Wednesday afternoon.

‘They’re in good spirits. They looked absolutely fantastic,’ said Dr. Rochelle Vicker of San Francisco General Hospital.

She added they were being treated with antibiotics and monitored for infections from their claw and tooth wounds to their heads, necks, arms and hands.

They suffered ‘pretty aggressive bite marks,’ police spokesman Steve Mannina said.

‘Wild animals have about seven times the strength per pound than humans do,’ animal behavior specialist Diana Guerrero told FOX News.

‘The caging or enclosures are the territories of captive zoo animals. ... They’re hardwired for certain behaviors.’

When they escape their enclosures, however, that behavior gets thrown off kilter and anyone nearby must remain calm and quiet and out of their way to avoid agitating them.

Zoologist Ron Magill agreed, saying that wild animals in captivity lose their fear of humans and will ‘take advantage of any possibility’ to escape.

‘You can take the animal out of the wild; you cannot take the wild out of the animal,’ he said.”*
posted by ericb at 12:07 PM on December 26, 2007


From ericb's link: After last year's attack, the zoo added customized steel mesh over the bars, built in a feeding shoot and increased the distance between the public and the cats.

A feeding what?
posted by desjardins at 12:09 PM on December 26, 2007


I suspect a "feeding shoot" is a slide down which food is dispensed to the tiger in the enclosure.
posted by ericb at 12:14 PM on December 26, 2007


i.e. "chute."
posted by ericb at 12:45 PM on December 26, 2007


Last year I went to the Big Cat Rescue down in Tampa, FL. They have this enormous tiger, Shere Khan, 800 pounds. I got to feed it a steak, and not just like a normal steak, no. More like a huge 5 pound slab of meat. The tiger just swallowed it whole.

For the most part I was in complete awe of that creature but there was a tiny, monkey part of my brain that wanted to run for dear life.
posted by Talanvor at 12:48 PM on December 26, 2007


Then, one day, James's mother and father went to London to do some shopping, and there a terrible thing happened. Both of them suddenly got eaten up (in full daylight, mind you, and on a crowded street) by an enormous angry rhinoceros which had escaped from the London Zoo.
These things happen all the time. People should be more careful in jungles and large cities.
posted by TimTypeZed at 12:49 PM on December 26, 2007


DO NOT CROSS
posted by dgaicun at 12:50 PM on December 26, 2007


Personally, I would be a little ashamed getting killed by God's cheesy army tattoo.
posted by dgaicun at 12:59 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


My shenanigans theory: The dead guy let the tiger out, either because of an animal fetish, or in an attempt to commit a memorable suicide.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:33 PM on December 26, 2007



the zoo is closed today, but they "anticipate to be open thursday" (tomorrow)

really? who's going to go- ambulance chasers? yikes. this zoo needs a serious investigation into its safety practices before being open to the public.
posted by hazel at 2:02 PM on December 26, 2007


My partner works at a Zoo, so I'll stay out of the "Zoo's are evil, awful places for animals" debate.

The reason the Zoo/Police won't have used tranquilizers is because tranquilizers can take a while to work on an animal that's stressed and full of adrenalin. Sometimes they don't even work, or if you give the animal to much and it'll kill them. Also, you've just shot a tiger and there's nothing between you and him, congratulations, you've just given him another target (you) and made him more angry.

I would imagine most Zoos have a shoot-on-site policy when a 'dangerous animal'* gets free, mainly for the immediate safety of visitors and staff.

*dangerous animal could include: all predators species, Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Cape Buffalo, Hippos, Rampaging Elephants, Baboons, etc.
posted by X-00 at 2:17 PM on December 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Wow. I have a totally perverse sense of humor, and have never moralized at someone on the net, but to cheer on the tiger for killing someone, and then getting shot to death is beyond shallow.

"Yay tiger" ???
"I'm an 'animal activist'"???

That's beyond shallow. Subhuman even. In the bad way. Are you twelve years old and never yet had to face the reality of your beliefs? Have you considered pulling a "Timothy Treadwell" and helping the rest of us all enjoy a nice ironic news story about *you* while putting your ethos to rest? Please.

Geez. There's no more humor in a guy at a zoo getting killed by a tiger than there is someone getting killed by a car while crossing the street. "Haha! Go Chrysler!"
posted by lothar at 2:21 PM on December 26, 2007


The first thing I felt when I heard this story was jealousy. I can pretty much guarantee that my inevitable death will not be by tiger....sigh.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:27 PM on December 26, 2007


Wonder if the tiger had "Eye of the Tiger" playing in his head during this attack?
posted by dasheekeejones at 2:50 PM on December 26, 2007


I prefer to think he was mentally quoting Blake.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:22 PM on December 26, 2007


Basically, make life more interesting by spreading wild and dangerous animals throughout the US to make us value our lives just a little bit more.

In my neighbourhood (in Canada), you have to watch out that cougars and bears don't eat your pets (or your children).
posted by KokuRyu at 3:43 PM on December 26, 2007


does anyone have any links to the layout/ pics of the enclosure, walls etc ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:05 PM on December 26, 2007


"There's no more humor in a guy at a zoo getting killed by a tiger than there is someone getting killed by a car while crossing the street. "Haha! Go Chrysler!""

When we start locking up wild, carnivorous Chryslers - putting them behind a 20 foot ditch and walking away dusting our hands saying "there, that ought to hold 'em!" And then one gets out and runs amok ... that would be funny!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:08 PM on December 26, 2007


"Authorities [have] released the identity of the person killed in Tuesday's tiger mauling at the San Francisco Zoo.

Officials said the victim was a 17-year-old from San Jose named Carlos Sousa, Jr."*
San Jose Mercury News Guest Book on behalf of Carlos Sousa, Jr.
posted by ericb at 4:22 PM on December 26, 2007


...the normal response to this story is probably to giggle

Henry C. Mabuse -- on behalf of Carlos Sousa, Jr., his grieving family and friends and many others who indeed can empathize with the tragedy of his death -- FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!!!
posted by ericb at 4:30 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why Tigers Attack -- Was It Human Error? The Design of The New Exhibit?
“….The incident is, by any estimate, incredibly rare. ‘To have an animal escape and kill a visitor is unprecedented,’ says Ed Hansen, executive director of the American Association of Zookeepers and a 25-year veteran of the industry. But for zookeepers it is not particularly surprising: tigers have naturally aggressive and predatory instincts. So when a flaw in design or human error allows one to escape—two factors likely at play in San Francisco—a death is not altogether shocking. It's the rare but very real consequence of allowing humans to come in close contact with predatory animals.

‘The fact is you're keeping a wild animal in the cage that eats things the size of humans, sometimes things larger than humans,’ says Scott Lope, operations director of Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary in Florida. ‘That's what they do.’

While there is no government agency that tracks tiger attacks, Big Cat Rescue recorded 44 attacks by big cats in 2006, one of which resulted in a fatality. The statistic points to a fact that zookeepers say visitors often overlook: large cats, like tigers and lions, are predators even if they have spent their entire lives in a zoo.

…But if zookeepers aren't wondering why the animal attacked, they are still unsure of how. The tiger was separated from the public by a 20-foot-wide moat and a 18-foot-high wall. And the facility had recently been upgraded; after the 2006 attack the zoo installed customized steel mesh over the bars, built in a feeding chute and increased the distance between the public and the cats. The renovated facility opened in September. Experts have their best guesses: that it was likely a combination of both human and mechanical error that allowed the tiger to break loose. The recent renovation could have played a role. The design itself may have had flaws, or the changed environment could have upset the animals, which had moved in only three months ago, putting them on edge in an unfamiliar environment.

Then there's the possibility of a human error. Multiple experts told NEWSWEEK that the timing of the attack—around 5 p.m., closing time, on Christmas Day—may have had something to do with the animal's escape. ‘You could speculate it was Christmas Day … it was right before closing time and ask, 'Did [zoo personnel] leave early?'‘ says Lope of Big Cat Rescue. ‘There are many things you could speculate on that could all be contributing factors.’

But experts are quick to caution that the actual causes will not be clear until the police finish their investigation. The zoo (which is usually open 365 days a year) is expected to reopen Thursday, but its executive director, Manuel Mollinedo, said the big cat exhibits will remain closed ‘until we get a better understanding of what actually happened.’ It's an understanding that both the police and zookeepers anxiously await.”
posted by ericb at 4:54 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would imagine most Zoos have a shoot-on-site policy when a 'dangerous animal' gets free, mainly for the immediate safety of visitors and staff.

I would consider it irresponsible for a zoo to have either a stepped system of tranquilizers, or two tranquilizer guns ready at all times, with perhaps real firearms available for the worst case happening. I really don't see why it is difficult to have fired tranquilizers at the animal, and then shot it to kill if it looked like being unable to be contained. At least then retaining some chance of not destroying a significantly endangered species by human incompetence - the zoos should have a responsibility to the animals just as much as to the public, especially if the animals are endangered.

If that sort of response is not available, the zoo should not be keeping animals (all caveats against zoos aside).

Some of the reports are saying that the animal was out for 15-20 minutes until Police arrived. So a bunch of police cars can drive to the zoo, find the tiger and kill it before any of the (essential) fully trained zookeepers were able to approach the animal and attempt to contain it? Inexcusable. Utter, and complete incompetence. The zoo should be facing manslaughter charges, attempted manslaughter charges (assuming no evidence of 'helping the animal escape', as has been suggested) and after that, the zoo should be legally responsible and punished to the fullest extent for allowing a situation that resulted in the death of an endangered species. Part of that penalty should be the consideration of removing their ability to hold such an animal if they are not only incapable of keeping it caged in a humane fashion, but also of subduing it should it escape - also in a humane fashion.

The fuss over the killing of the people will overrule any responsibility to the animal, which I think is wrong - no matter what went wrong, the tiger should not have been killed. It was not 'rogue' or crazy, it was just being a tiger. The fault was where it was - ie not caged correctly.

Also: If the attack was provoked, every single shred of pity I feel for the guy that was killed, or those wounded if they were also involved, has evaporated. Totally. You provoke a tiger? Tough shit if you get mauled to death.
posted by Brockles at 7:14 PM on December 26, 2007


Sometime shortly after 5 p.m., the tiger escaped from her fortified grotto, which is surrounded by a 20-foot-wide concrete moat and a 18-foot-high wall. Mollinedo said he had never seen the tiger "down in the lower moat area," which is not filled with water. Once free, Tatiana immediately attacked Carlos, who died at the scene.

Calls started flooding 911 at around 5:07 p.m. Police arriving at the scene found Tatiana attacking another man near the zoo's Terrace Cafe, about 300 yards from the large-cat grotto. They hollered for it to stop and then shot it dead when the tiger began to move toward them, Fong said.


I highly doubt that a couple of guys sitting in a restaurant some distance from the tiger enclosure could have provoked it in any significant way. Maybe, just maybe, the 17 year old kid who was actually killed provoked the animal, but it's hard to see how he could do so if he was outside the enclosure when he died. That's some serious distance away from the animal.

If the zoo was negligent in the design of the enclosure, or its treatment of the animal, or if an employee was careless and let the tiger out, nail them hard. Two people were horribly injured, one person died, and a rare and beautiful animal acting according to what the zoo damn well knew was its nature also died.

But I disagree that tranquilizers could usually be a reasonable first attempt to contain a predator of that size. If the shooters were well out of range of the angry animal, and if no other vulnerable humans were within its range, then yeah, the seconds it takes for a tranquilizer to work would be justified. But if there was any risk to the shooters and if the area wasn't clear of anyone else, the only reasonable choice they had was to shoot to kill. Killing the tiger probably saved the lives of those two men. The moral weight of killing the animal would be on the zoo nonetheless.

I guess we'll have to wait to see what the investigation shows.
posted by maudlin at 7:52 PM on December 26, 2007


Was Tiger Let Out on Purpose? -- "Probe focuses on whether big cat had help."
"The big cat exhibit at the San Francisco Zoo was cordoned off as a crime scene Wednesday as investigators tried to determine whether a 300-pound Siberian tiger that killed a visitor escaped from its high-walled pen on its own or got help from someone, inadvertent or otherwise.

...Police Chief Heather Fong said the department has opened a criminal investigation to 'determine if there was human involvement in the tiger getting out or if the tiger was able to get out on its own.'

...One zoo official insisted the tiger did not get out through an open door and must have climbed or leaped out. But Jack Hanna, former director of the Columbus Zoo and a frequent guest on TV, said such a leap would be an unbelievable feat, and 'virtually impossible.'

'There's something going on here. It just doesn't feel right to me,' he said. 'It just doesn't add up to me.'

Instead, he speculated that visitors might have been fooling around and might have taunted the animal and perhaps even helped it get out by, say, putting a board in the moat.

Similarly, Ron Magill, a spokesman at the Miami Metro Zoo, said it is unlikely a zoo tiger could make such a leap, even with a running start.

'Captive tigers aren't nearly in the kind of shape that wild tigers have to be in to survive,' he said. He said taunting can definitely make an animal more aggressive, but 'whether it makes it more likely to get out of an exhibit is purely speculative.'

The police chief would not comment on whether the animal was taunted."
posted by ericb at 8:07 PM on December 26, 2007


maudlin: The two men who were injured were apparently with the man who was killed, and were all attacked at once. The two of them escaped and fled to the Cafe, but after the tiger was done killing their friend, she followed their trail of blood to finish them off. At least, that's what the latest article on the Chronicle's website says. It's certainly possible all three of them were taunting her, although the article also says that police doubt it. How they have any idea, I don't know.

That said, we were just there a couple weeks ago with our 2-year-old, so this is completely freaking me out.
posted by crawl at 9:48 PM on December 26, 2007


Actually, now they think the three boys were taunting the tiger, and may have even led to its escape by dangling their legs or arms down into the exhibit.
posted by crawl at 9:54 PM on December 26, 2007


OK, if they were part of the same party, then it's more plausible that they could have all been provoking the tiger in some way, although obviously we still don't know for sure if there was any provocation (and I think everyone else here has been pretty clear about that). But what would be especially awful would be if someone else instigated this all and these three guys were just in the wrong place in the wrong time when the tiger got loose.

On preview: whoa. Given what the hell has happened to those guys and their families, I hope whoever is saying that they were dangling limbs into the enclosure is pretty damn sure it happened like that.
posted by maudlin at 9:59 PM on December 26, 2007


They are reporting that forensics people found a shoe and bloodstains in the enclosure, and shoeprints on the perimeter fence on the local SF news. Maybe someone did inadvertently climb in there and help her escape, and of course a tiger, like any predator, will chase and pounce on anything that runs. Whatever happened I don't think anyone meant for this. Very sad.
posted by fshgrl at 10:07 PM on December 26, 2007


really? who's going to go- ambulance chasers?

Actually, a lot of people, I suspect. There's an aspect whereby this makes zoos and the animals in them interesting to people again, like the way the shuttle accidents rekindled a measure of public interest in the space program. Oakland zoo visitors flock to see tigers.

this zoo needs a serious investigation into its safety practices before being open to the public.

Really? What specific safety practices are you saying they violated? Moats and walls? They have worked well for zoos over a period of decades. This was the first time that a member zoo of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (basically all the top-quality American zoos and some outside the US) had a visitor fatality. That says to me that generally the standards are working.

Now we're finding out there is rather incontrovertible evidence that the victims were provoking the animal and invading its space.

I'm starting to think of the lion at the Kabul Zoo, Marjan. He killed a man who got into his cage, but the man's brother got revenge by throwing a grenade at the lion, leaving him half-blind and toothless.

If the zoo was negligent in the design of the enclosure, or its treatment of the animal, or if an employee was careless and let the tiger out, nail them hard.

No doubt there will be a civil suit, but with the evidence emerging tonight, it will be an uphill climb for a big payoff.
posted by dhartung at 11:38 PM on December 26, 2007


the seconds it takes for a tranquilizer to work would be justified
Tranquilizers do not take seconds to work, the animal is not going to fall at your feet just as it's about to ponce on you like in the movies. As I said before, tranquilizers can take a while to work on an animal that's stressed, disorientated, angry and full of adrenalin. Not to mention exact doses are incredibly hard to figure out in standard procedures, let alone an emergency like this. Also, just because you've hit the animal with a dart doesn't mean the full dose has been administered, it could be half, it could be none.

Here's a fairly recent example, my partner (a zookeeper) and her colleagues moved some Zebra into a new enclosure a few months ago, it took around 30 minutes for one of the Zebra to succumb to the dart.

Zookeepers never, ever want to see harm done to their animals, but tranquilizer darts aren't as reliable as bullets in these very unfortunate circumstances.
posted by X-00 at 11:40 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is that "ticking tiger" scenario we've feared.
posted by telstar at 12:01 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Per the NYT, when the police arrived on scene, they confiscated the tranquilizer guns from the zoo's shooting team. Answers that one.

telstar: Nah, this was an "active eater" scenario. We know now that you can't just set up a perimeter and negotiate with a tiger, the way we have in the past.
posted by dhartung at 2:04 AM on December 27, 2007


Too soon?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:29 AM on December 27, 2007


I really don't see why it is difficult to have fired tranquilizers at the animal, and then shot it to kill if it looked like being unable to be contained

Not that I could improve upon X-00, but this Monster of God could apparently leap 20 feet! If you can look it in the eyes, I seriously doubt you are going to have time to shoot it with a graded series of guns until you get juuuust the right one.
posted by dgaicun at 6:10 AM on December 27, 2007


Well, I did suspect a 'prank'. It's awful profiling, I know, but 'three young men' plus 'closing time on Christmas Day' made me wonder.

No doubt there will be a civil suit, but with the evidence emerging tonight, it will be an uphill climb for a big payoff.

If it turns out that the three decided that 'taunt the tiger' was great Christmas fun, it may well be the zoo suing the two who survived. Tigers != cheap -- even if there are sufficient morons in America who think they make great pets, only to realise that, no, they're friggin' tigers.
posted by holgate at 6:39 AM on December 27, 2007


By the by, speaking of Monster of God, David Quammen's book raises many interesting issues related to the topics in this thread about the coexistence of humans and great predatory beasts. Don't take what I'm about to say as representative of his arguments (more like the opposite), but do read it.

The 'Yay death' folks above get lots of shit, but the accepted price of keeping these animals alive at all is human death. Mostly the lives of poor brown folk:
To achieve physical asylum for these animals, there appear to be only two approaches. One is to create protected areas large enough to sustain stable breeding populations and outlaw poaching, and to experiment with ways of limiting damage to human beings exposed to danger in and around such zones. The second approach is to do the same thing, but combined with an officially regulated offtake of the great beasts, through licensed hunting or harvesting for skins or other valuable body parts. Whether either approach can save these creatures is the ultimate subject of Quammen's investigations....

...''It's a general truth,'' Quammen writes, ''if not quite a universal one, relevant from Rudraprayag to Komodo to Tsavo, sometimes noted but seldom quantified or analyzed: predation is costly and the costs are unevenly distributed. Large predators cause more material loss, inconvenience, terror, suffering and death among poor people (specifically poor people who live in rural circumstances within or adjacent to the habitat) and among native people adhering to traditional lifestyles on the landscape . . . than to anyone else. Proximity plus vulnerability equals jeopardy.''
Honestly, in a world with a ridiculously ballooning human population, I don't think there are many more feasible natural habitats that can ethically hold animals that view us as talking meat. Nor do I find many arguments convincing for not allowing dangerous animals to fall into extinction. The most convincing (and honest) argument for preservation of such megafauna is aesthetic. In other words in the very near future zoos may be the only appropriate place for large dangerous animals like this, and the sole reasonable justification for even keeping them alive at all, will be, in the words of one unpopular commentor above, the "amusement of the gawking masses". And that's a good enough reason for me.
posted by dgaicun at 7:01 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I seriously doubt you are going to have time to shoot it with a graded series of guns until you get juuuust the right one.

I was assuming more than one person. Odd that. Like doing the job properly, you know? Perhaps one or two trained members of the zoo shooting staff, and (say) several policemen with guns. And a proper gun, not one that can't hit a 7 foot tiger when it is more than 20 foot away - i.e. not a child's toy. If it moves towards you or becomes aggressive, or moves in a manner that prevents you containing the animal, you abort the attempt to save its life and then are forced to kill it. Not default to that position. The fact that they didn't even TRY suggests they either couldn't be bothered, or were too scared - then sack them all. Surely over-tranquilising an animal at the risk of killing it is preferable than just blasting it to death. At least there was a chance, even if it was a slim one, of it surviving.

I don't think there are many more feasible natural habitats that can ethically hold animals that view us as talking meat. Nor do I find many arguments convincing for not allowing dangerous animals to fall into extinction. The most convincing (and honest) argument for preservation of such megafauna is aesthetic.

So spouts the utter arrogance of the human race. They might hurt us so they don't deserve any respect or equality? If that is not being deliberately provocative (go you) then it is an enormously pompous viewpoint. We are invading their territory. Not the other way around (except a few edge cases). It belongs just as much to them, not to us as long as they don't eat us.

We do not have an overwhelming right to be able to live at the expense of everything else. The overpopulation of the earth is our problem and not for the lives of other animals to have to suffer to accommodate. Try looking at the earth as an ecosystem. Something that may help you with this is that it IS ONE. It is not our personal asset mine for us to use as we see fit.

The most convincing (and honest) argument for preservation of such megafauna is aesthetic.

Natural balance is the single most important, and only required, explanation for preservation. The fact that their lives do not belong to us is another justification for removing our negative influence. Look up the Great Chinese Sparrow Massacre. See the effect on the food chain when one tiny element is removed. Exactly such an effect may be likely to occur if you remove apex predators, which may directly affect the 'poor brown folk' who are in no position to seek alternative foods. We don't know if, when unchecked, populations of wild cattle (the tigers prey) will trample all the feeding areas for the 'poor brown folk's' cattle and they'll starve. We don't know whether, with the larger population, an illness or virus could occur that is mildly irritant to the wild population, but devastatingly destructive to domesticated animals.

I find it difficult that anyone, in this age of information availability, would be so ignorant as to suggest that any life form is purely aesthetic. So I suspect that you are just pulling my chain. Maybe so. But in case you were at all serious, I thought I'd reply. Maybe it will trigger you to go and learn rather than pontificate with a mere fraction of the facts from a position of gross ignorance.
posted by Brockles at 10:37 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


That position seems to me to be based on the idea that these highly rare and dangerous creatures are already a very marginal part of the ecosystem. One of the biggest threats to the health of lions and tigers at this point is inbreeding.

The fact that humans will deliberately inbreed them to produce aesthetic variations, despite the possibility of birth defects, (and do so and profit greatly) seems like pretty good evidence to me of what dgaicun is talking about. Most people don't care about these creatures at all; they just want to gawk at them.

We do not have an overwhelming right to be able to live at the expense of everything else. The overpopulation of the earth is our problem and not for the lives of other animals to have to suffer to accommodate.

Serious question: if you could press a button and scour H5N1 from the face of the earth before it ravages humanity, would you?
posted by zebra3 at 12:20 PM on December 27, 2007


Serious question: if you could press a button and scour H5N1 from the face of the earth before it ravages humanity, would you?

Serious answer - I don't think I can answer that. I'd be completely shooting in the dark as the question is not a simple one. I simply don't understand enough about why it was caused in the first place, or the effects of not allowing us to experience it naturally. Nor does anyone. We have no concept of the cost or the result of eradicating it - ie we have no idea what getting rid of it will do to the rest of the ecosystem. It would be easy to say "Yes, because I don't want any people to die" but that is a fraction of the issue. Perhaps allowing us to face this disease without artificial help is actually the best thing to do - it may raise our immune system as a whole or naturally allow people with lesser immune systems to die out. We can't see into the future, so the right answer may be either one.

Sooner or later, our population either needs to be decimated, or we need to leave and colonise somewhere else. Nothing else can work, as there is only so much in the way of natural resources that will support us. If we kill off this virus, maybe the next one will be harder. Maybe the one after that will be unstoppable. Sooner or later, we're going to get it, big time. If we remove things that test our immune system now, we may be stopping ourselves (as a species) growing stronger.

It's a can of worms. We are interfering in a natural system, and who knows what the right answer is? Anyone that claims that they do is either kidding themselves or out of their depth.

My (kind of left field thinking) is of the following example - Say we allow H5N1 to run it's course. We lose 20-30% of our population, but as a whole are a stronger species. In 10 years time, we bring back a SUPERH5N1 martian (or something) virus. We survive. If we'd eradicated H5N1 in the first place, that later disease may have completely wiped us out because it is so far out of the scope of our immune system.

I think the danger is in trying to treat everything in the short term. Convincing ourselves that we can always keep everything inside our control and understand all the consequences is naive. So without a crystal ball, I think that no-one can give the right answer as to eradicating that disease is in our best interests.
posted by Brockles at 2:09 PM on December 27, 2007


Bombshell: Moat wall just 12&frac12; feet, zoo officials find. They actually measured it this time instead of going by what they had "on file". This is four feet less than the AZA standard of 16&frac12;', instead of 3&frac12;' more as previous asserted.

I'm quite astonished, and this obviously changes everything. (How could you not know that your moat was too low?) The zoo is going to be ... I won't use the obvious phrase.
posted by dhartung at 2:43 PM on December 27, 2007


HTML worked in preview. Wall is 12-1/2', AZA standard is 16-1/2', prior claim of zoo was that wall was 18'.
posted by dhartung at 2:45 PM on December 27, 2007


What a clusterfuck all around. That kind of measurement error was funny only in Spinal Tap. More details from dhartung's link:

At a news conference this morning at the zoo, officials said there was no shoe found in the enclosure. On Wednesday, unnamed sources had said that authorities found a shoe and blood on the grass inside the enclosure; today, Police Chief Heather Fong said there was no shoe found in the grotto. A shoe was discovered near where the third victim was attacked, she said; and a shoeprint was also found on the railing of the waist-high fence surrounding the grotto. "We have all three pairs of shoes from the victims, and now we will see if any of them matches the footprint (on the fence)," she said. ...

On Wednesday, Mollinedo told The Chronicle it was likely that the animal was provoked, noting that "a couple of feet dangling over the edge could possibly have done it." Today, Mollinedo denied making that statement. ...

An examination of the tiger's body also revealed a significant amount of concrete in its back paws, according to a source close to the investigation. That may indicate the tiger used its back claws to help push it up the grotto wall.

posted by maudlin at 2:54 PM on December 27, 2007


Wall is 12-1/2', AZA standard is 16-1/2', prior claim of zoo was that wall was 18'.

Who built the wall? Halliburton?

Brings to mind the negligence here in Boston vis-a-vis the Big Dig and its collapsing ceiling -- among other problems.
posted by ericb at 3:04 PM on December 27, 2007


They might hurt us so they don't deserve any respect or equality


Equality? No way. Certainly nothing close.

I kind of anticipated your arguments with the inclusion of the qualifier 'convincing'. As in I'm familiar with your class of objections and they do not convince me or mesh with my value system. Or indeed, that of most people.

Yes, we should work toward greater respect toward and more rights for animals. Especially animals that share emotional and mental traits with us, which I believe are the rational basis for our own rights. And the further animals and things get from that standard, the more their claim to rights dissolves. So, no, I don't believe, for instance, that fleas or plants have "rights". On the other end of the spectrum, an artificially intelligent robot, built out of nothing but dung and corn chips, would deserve full or partial human rights, depending on how genuinely human it is.

There is no exact calculus, but even animals with the most similarity to us (e.g. chimps) don't even deserve a fraction of human rights. To the extent that I believe human lives or well-being can be justifiably bartered for animal life or well-being (for instance, keeping tigers alive at the price of the occasional unfortunate peasant) it is only when I believe it is serving some greater human need. For instance megafauna like pandas are big, pretty animals that humans take great joy in looking at and experiencing. Far more than, say, the polka-dotted yellow-tree stink-frog of southern Utter Pradesh. So we work hard to preserve animals like the former, maybe even at the expense of 100s of human lives, while 1000s of critters like the latter go extinct every year, with nary but a handful of biologists even noticing or caring. This depite the fact that creatures like the latter are probably far more important to their respective ecosystems (especially collectively).

So to the extent that I want species like tigers to live, and accept one ounce of human suffering for it, it is for that reason alone. Other animals, like cows and pigs and chickens, I eat. Animals like ants, I spray with bug killer when they invade my home. Animals like bacteria, I kill with drugs when they make me sick. Animals like mice and monkeys, I allow extensive medical testing to save human lives. Animals like horses, I ride for fun. Animals, like cats and dogs, I keep confined as pets. Animals like tigers and bears, I allow to be kept in enclosures as aesthetics. And an animal that gets loose and starts killing people, it needs to die.

After all, the life of that individual tiger to me, is worth scarcely less than the individual cow I ate for lunch today. And Yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that.


Exactly such an effect may be likely to occur if you remove apex predators, which may directly affect the 'poor brown folk' who are in no position to seek alternative foods.

I'll let biologists make these calculations for individual animals, and try to vote for governments that will pay attention to such scientists. Saving specific species, as the world population grows and grows and grows, is going to take lots of directed action and resources, and we can't save all of them. We do need to do what's best for humans and "poor brown folk" though. I agree with that.
posted by dgaicun at 3:38 PM on December 27, 2007


jamjam's story is eerily similar to something we had happen at the Fort Worth Zoo. Only with white tigers. And those tigers saw this adorable blond child pressing her face up against the glass, and I swear to you that every single one of them stopped what they were doing, looked at her, and I'm convinced were coiling themselves for attack. Even though I'm pretty sure the tiger's can't get out, there's no point in tempting fate by getting close enough that they can see what a lovely snack you'd make.

Regarding zoos as a concept; I understand the concept and well implemented, like San Diego and Fort Worth, they are not necessarily a force for evil, and actually provide serious educational and conservation benefits. But zoos like Dallas, where animals are kept in wire cages with concrete floors, no shade, and only fans to keep them cool in 120 degree weather....those place pollute the universe with badness.

This story is so sad, both in human cost and the loss of a beautiful creature like Tatiana.

That said, if it becomes proven that these boys taunted her, and helped her get out, then I hope they're criminally prosecuted for not only the death of one of the trio, but for the loss of Tatiana as well.
posted by dejah420 at 7:14 PM on December 27, 2007


We do need to do what's best for humans and "poor brown folk" though. I agree with that.

Please don't generate points for you to agree with. I said no such thing. Humans need to look after their interest, obviously, just not at the expense of the world we live in - just because they don't cry like babies when we kill off a species does not make it ok that we did that. It doesn't make it less wrong than killing off a tribe, a religious group or a race of people. To put human interests above and beyond those of the natural world is stupid. Seriously, there is no other word for it. Our needs are not paramount. It shows total lack of understanding of not only the fact that we are part of a delicately balanced ecosystem, but also the basic fact that we are simply just another animal. Just one with higher thought. We just think we're special because we can tell each other that. There's no justification for it at all.

Equality? No way. Certainly nothing close.

The fact that you judge relative worth on how many of your personal traits an animal shares as being directly related and essential for their personal worth compared to a human is one of the saddest and most simplistic things I have read on the subject.
That sentence alone makes me either want to shower you with significant volumes of literature to get you to understand precisely why emotional parity with humans is utterly irrelevant to gauge its worth as a species in an ecosystem, or just hope that someone with your thinking never, ever, gets in a position of making any policy of any environmental impact and that your sort of thinking dies out as it deserves to.

There is no exact calculus, but even animals with the most similarity to us (e.g. chimps) don't even deserve a fraction of human rights.

I didn't at any stage suggest human rights were required. That's ridiculous. I said equality. As a species. As an animal. For that is exactly what we both are. Don't confuse the issue with human rights - that is purely an abstract concept that we have created to judge our own interactions. They have no place in judging different species any more than cultural norms are appropriate in applying across disparate communities.

So we work hard to preserve animals like the former, maybe even at the expense of 100s of human lives, while 1000s of critters like the latter go extinct every year, with nary but a handful of biologists even noticing or caring.

One of the common threads I have heard through many, many of the biologists and naturalists that I have read, followed or spoken to is their frustration at the lack of ability to get people to care about the less photogenic species. Just because they concentrate their marketing on the species that garner the most publicity and generate the most sympathetic donations, doesn't mean that they don't care or haven't noticed by any means that other species are being extinct. Trust me, they are far more aware of it than you are. But less people want to buy an 'adopt a tree frog' gift (with associated donations) than they would a Panda. They have to factor their marketing to match demand just like every other industry does. Not all of the money generated using fluffy pandas and tigers goes to saving just those species. Feel free to read up on that. You seem to be severely lacking on depth of knowledge on this area.
posted by Brockles at 7:22 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I didn't at any stage suggest human rights were required. That's ridiculous. I said equality. As a species. As an animal. For that is exactly what we both are. Don't confuse the issue with human rights - that is purely an abstract concept that we have created to judge our own interactions.

I'm missing the difference. 'Equality', I interpret as shorthand for 'Equal basis for rights'. I can't see what other interpretation would be meaningful. I could simply say humans and animals were "equal", but this wouldn't change the fact that I believe, e.g., I can ethically slaughter one of them for food and not the other. In other words, it wouldn't provide any accurate information.

The fact that you judge relative worth on how many of your personal traits an animal shares as being directly related and essential for their personal worth compared to a human is one of the saddest and most simplistic things I have read on the subject.

I didn't say 'relative worth', I said 'claim to rights'. I can't see how it's sad or simplistic, it seems like basic logic that rights are and should be based on the emotional and cognitive capacities to desire rights. It suffuses every issue I can think of where a controversy over 'rights' exists. For instance does a little heart-beating fetus have a "right to life" like various brands of Christians claim? In my opinion, no, because it isn't sufficiently human - its emotional and cognitive capacities haven't developed to the point where I believe it deserves human rights. And certainly not more than the mother.

I would imagine you are being disingenuous, or maybe just confused, because it's impossible for you to not use this calculus as well. Did you ever eat a carrot? What in the world gave you any right to eat that carrot? That carrot was "equal" with you. Ever step on bugs? Eat fish? To the point you've struggled at all - I'm going to assume you are a vegetarian (you better be) - it's easy to assume that it followed some form of this calculus: Feel most wrong eating cows, slightly less wrong eating fish, slightly less wrong eating bugs, not wrong eating vegetables. All in the order these things have the capacity to desire and appreciate freedom and distinguish between the desirability of their given environments.


To put human interests above and beyond those of the natural world is stupid. Seriously, there is no other word for it. Our needs are not paramount. It shows total lack of understanding of not only the fact that we are part of a delicately balanced ecosystem, but also the basic fact that we are simply just another animal.

Like I said, whether we are an animal or not is irrelevant to me. It is not the basis for rights. An artificially intelligent robot made out of corn chips, I believe, would deserve full rights.

I doubt the ecosystem is as 'delicately balanced' as you believe, since the world has always been in a state of flux and catastrophe. Certainly our human impact on the environment has been something devastating, and not something I would prefer (I believe the world population should ideally be maybe a billion or less). Though again, to the extent I care about the environment at all, it is to the extent it can serve human interests and maximize human well-being. (which means keeping it healthy and full of resources for future generations) The environment does not have emotions or desires, so I can scarcely care what happens to it outside of human interests. The idea that inanimate portions of the material universe have "rights" in conflict with how they can be used to aid sentient beings is illogical. No one can or has ever made a rational argument for such a crazy kind of ethics.
posted by dgaicun at 8:02 AM on December 28, 2007


I can't see how it's sad or simplistic, it seems like basic logic that rights are and should be based on the emotional and cognitive capacities to desire rights.

That response is entirely elitist, though. All animals should be treated equally, humans included. Human 'rights' are not the only (nor the best) means to judge non human life forms. It doesn't work as a standard as anything other than a way to put us firmly on top (which is clearly your opinion that humans are superior). It is flawed, as it requires elements that are only present in humans to be relevant. Having equal rights to life (as in not being made to be extinct) and the ability to live their life without interference is equality. Not interfering in the natural order in a manner that skews it disproportionately is what I want. Trying to push that into a 'human rights' issue is an extrapolation that doesn't fit.

I didn't say 'relative worth', I said 'claim to rights'.

But you are defining a lopsided relative worth by judging them on a premise that isn't valid - you can't judge animals as humans. Just as animals. Your entire positions requires applying a purely human concept to a natural food chain. It doesn't work.

What in the world gave you any right to eat that carrot? That carrot was "equal" with you.

No, I'm not a vegetarian. The right to survive and the right not to be eaten are completely different. I think that the vegetarian argument against eating meat is every bit as flawed as your 'worth' system. I am an Omnivore. Eating meat is natural and what my body has evolved to need. Just as much as it is not unfair for a lion to eat a gazelle, it is not unfair that I also eat meat. Out of respect for the animals, I'd never eat anything that would have an impact on it's survival as a species (ie not eating endangered species) and if I am going to eat them, I'm going to make it as painless as stress free as possible (humane killing techniques, domesticated animals).

There is a natural order to things - some animals eat others. Respecting natural order should be the defining element. Selectively eating others gives the less fortunate animals a greater chance - small populations manage to stabilise. This is natural. Don't (as you seem to be with all of this) apply human concepts that are not suitable in the animal world (emotional depth to the same level, higher thought, cognitive process) and judge on that. Over complicating the issue is every bit as inappropriate as over-simplifying it - Saying that I shouldn't eat animals if I think they deserve to survive i just as misguided as saying 'they don't deserve as much right to survive as me because they aren't like me'.


I doubt the ecosystem is as 'delicately balanced' as you believe, since the world has always been in a state of flux and catastrophe.

In so very many parts of the world it very much is. I urge you to fill the gaps in your knowledge. It's all out there, and the scientific position is largely unanimous.

The environment does not have emotions or desires, so I can scarcely care what happens to it outside of human interests.

Again, your judging the entire survival of our planet as purely a resource for humans shows the ridiculous arrogance of the ill educated human race. Nothing belongs to us. We are one animal among many. Our biggest strength - the ability to reason and possess higher thought - is also our biggest weakness - we believe that we are special and all is there for us.

This is not true. That path leads to screwing everything up for all the animals. We can't (despite our self-belief) control an ecosystem. We have to let it look after itself and stop screwing it up. Once it is stable (which it mostly is in the developed parts of the world) then we can exploit it. But we HAVE to make sure we use it within boundaries and without causing irreversible damage (like we have in so many places - the Chinese dam, for one of many instances).
posted by Brockles at 10:30 AM on December 28, 2007


Teen killed by tiger saved friend.
posted by ericb at 11:52 AM on December 28, 2007


Dear fucking lord, your thinking is so ridiculous and fuzzy, I feel embarrassed arguing with you. Please don't lecture me on my ignorance of biology, and "scientific consensus", because you are full of shit (PDF):
Popular assumptions about ecosystem stability and the delicate balance of nature are found lacking when examined in terms of paleoecological, historical and current biochronological, and biogeographical sequences in a wide variety of environments. Species composition of vegetation varies continuously in time as well as space in the absence of acute perturbations. Species have been added to or removed from ecosystems without greatly affecting ecosystem function... the relative importance of native and exotic species in ecosystems has and can be changed markedly and quickly by biological agents, but ecosystems appear to adjust rapidly in restoring productive capacity and functional processes without disastrous consequences... Some question man’s right and capacity to manipulate the “natural environment” and advocate a “hands-off approach. But the paleoecological and biogeographical sequences reviewed above suggest that there are few, if any, truly stable and “natural” plant assemblages.
How dare you feed me that horseshit, as if I'm unfamiliar with biological sciences. Your whole viewpoint isn't informed by science at all (I have to seriously question you know any biology whatever) but some New Age religious nonsense about "natural" things being good and platonic.

No, I'm not a vegetarian. The right to survive and the right not to be eaten are completely different ... I am an Omnivore. Eating meat is natural and what my body has evolved to need.

Jesus, you are dense. No you do not "need" meat to be healthy. No evolution does not "say" you shouldn't be a vegetarian, anymore than it says you shouldn't be wearing "unnatural" sneakers or browsing the "unnatural" Internet. Are you unfamiliar with the Naturalistic fallacy?? Evolution didn't make things good and right, it just made them. Even if you did need meat to be healthy (which is pure nonsense), that doesn't in the slightest mean it would be ethical to eat meat. It is unrelated to the question. For instance, if you biologically needed to murder me to be healthy, well, I sure wouldn't think it was ethical for you to try.

Just as much as it is not unfair for a lion to eat a gazelle, it is not unfair that I also eat meat.

Are you retarded? Does a lion browse the Internet? By what nonsensical ethical system are you looking to lions for moral advice? A lion also kills the cubs of the females it "wins" sexual access to by beating some rival male. Is this going to be your method of family planning as well?

Human meat eating in the 20th century is the very pinnacle of "unnatural" behavior... and talk about harmful effects on the environment! We breed and kill billions of animals every year in a process so removed from any "natural" hunting, it's laughable.


There is a natural order to things - some animals eat others. Respecting natural order should be the defining element.

The "natural order" is an incoherence that exists only in your head; a kind of Enya meets Disneyland spiritual simulacrum of the natural world and what it "means".

As I said, it's just basic logic that rights are and should be based on the emotional and cognitive capacities to desire rights. Even though you say this is a stupid basis for rights, you neverthelss seem to implicitly realize and believe it too, even as you misapply the principle through constant careless anthropomorphizing:

To put human interests above and beyond those of the natural world is stupid. Seriously, there is no other word for it. Our needs are not paramount.

And:

Out of respect for the animals, I'd never eat anything that would have an impact on it's survival as a species (ie not eating endangered species)

And:

Having equal rights to life (as in not being made to be extinct) and the ability to live their life without interference is equality.

"The natural world", which is an abstraction, not an organism with a brain, doesn't have "interests", which is a human capacity. But note, you seem to understand that the ability to have "interests" is indeed a criteria for rights. Which is exactly my point, and part of my basis for rights. A rock doesn't have "interests", but (apparently) in your imagination, it does. You believe the rock has interests to exist, and not, say, be incinerated or "interfered" with. But the rock doesn't have those interests. You are imposing those interests. They are your interests.
Similarly, you believe you are "respecting" animals by only eating ones that aren't endangered. That you are "respecting" their desire to continue existing as a species. Or even worse that you are "respecting" the desire of "the species" by allowing it to continue existing. This is nonsense. Animals want to live and not be eaten as individuals. They care not one bit about how their death affects "the species", "the genera", or "the phylum" for that matter. Again that's your interest, not theirs. And even more certainly, "the species" and "the phylum" are abstractions, and they don't have "interests". "The species" isn't an organism with a brain and emotions and wants. "The species" doesn't want to keep existing. You want that.

My basis for rights is not "human arrogance". Yours is. Your basis for rights is about Brockles's arbitrary and illogical wants and desires, not about the imaginary "interests" of nature and "the natural order". Those abstractions do not have "interests". Humans do. Humans have interests. That is the basis for their rights. It is why humans can ethically shape environments and worlds for their benefit. Because humans have interests, produced by their unique cognitive machinery, while those environments and worlds do not. And that makes all the difference.
posted by dgaicun at 12:52 PM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Wild" tiger, in a cage? Site, please? Many zoo anaimals are hand-raised. They may well be powerful, dangerous beasts, but wild, not so much. Someone wrote above about a zoo worker teasing a tiger with its food. Very bad.

Is it a crime to hand raise a beast that will become too large to continue in the status of "pet"? Maybe, maybe not. I know a tiger who was hand raised. She still enjoys human attention, and will even beg for it, although she is now full grown and extremely dangerous! I would love nothing better than to be able to go in to her enclosure and snuggle her, and kiss her snout (especially to kiss her beautiful snout!). She was nice to me when she was small enough that I could play with her, and quite used to strangers (me) coming to call.

Keeping endangered species in zoos are a way to preserve their DNA. Sometimes they will breed, sometimes not. The zoos also offer ordinary people the chance to view these creatures in real life, perhaps to learn to actually care about them and their continued existence. Are zoos "cruel"? Sometimes, but certainly not always.

At my local zoo there is a timber wolf (in Africa, no less! As far from home as myself) that seems to dislike me. But there is also a dominant female there who makes it clear she does not want him to give me shit. I have no idea why she responds that way. Perhaps she likes the fact I talk to her?

Living in South Africa, the zoo is convenient and membership very affordable. My experience here has allowed me to become more bold with the animals. I've befriended a warthog and an adult male lion, and several birds. For some, I am highly sympathetic to their plight. The jaguar is sad, he lost his companion (old age). The tiger there has a new companion, don't know yet how they're getting along (he was quite unhappy with the death of his old companion, which is odd, as tigers are solitary creatures).
posted by Goofyy at 2:18 AM on December 29, 2007


I think we're this close to finding WMDs in the tiger enclosure. What a complete clusterfuck as the allegations and accusations fly back and forth. Did the dunken young men use slingshots to fire on the tiger? Did they tease other animals? Was there a fourth man? Did zoo staff help or ignore the bloody young men begging for aid? Did the staff try and fail to sedate the tiger?

S.F. zoo visitor saw two victims of tiger attack teasing lions

Tiger brothers had slingshots


Empty vodka bottle found in tiger victims' car

Police logs reveal tiger escape chaos

This is how the Christmas Day drama unfolded, according to the police-control log:

The first report comes in. Zoo personnel initially tell police the two men who reported the tiger escape may be mentally disturbed and "making something up," but one is bleeding from the back of the head.

Zoo employees report a tiger is loose.

By now, the zoo is being evacuated. Medics refuse to enter the zoo for several minutes until it has been secured. Meanwhile, zoo keepers try to round up what they believe to be multiple tigers on the loose and hit them with tranquilliser darts.

"Zoo personnel have the tiger in sight and are dealing with it," reads a note in the police-control log.

Medics locate one victim with a large puncture hole in his neck. As they attend to him, an officer spots the tiger sitting down before it flees and begins attacking another victim.

Officers begin firing, killing the 350lb Siberian tiger.

posted by maudlin at 6:10 AM on January 3, 2008


Was there a second tiger on that grassy knoll?
posted by Artw at 6:59 AM on January 3, 2008


Damned commie tigers.
posted by desjardins at 7:55 AM on January 3, 2008


I am desperate for details. I really really really can't wait to find out if these people taunted, threw things, or slingshotted (?) something at the tigers.
posted by agregoli at 12:03 PM on January 3, 2008


They slashdotted the tigers?
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on January 3, 2008


If it turned out he did poke the tiger with sticks or something, he's going to be a shoo-in for next Darwin award.

To quote Billy Connelly (back when he was still funny) about being told a certain poisonous spider was dangerous if you annoyed it. 'Who says "Jesus, I'm bored... think I'll go and annoy a spider!"?'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:40 PM on January 3, 2008


« Older Tiny Buildings...  |  First, tribes: tough life.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments