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26 Dec 2007 08:05
A tiger that mauled a zookeeper last year escaped from its pen at the San Francisco Zoo on Tuesday, killing one man and injuring two others before police shot it dead, authorities said.
The three men were in their 20s; they were together and were not zoo employees, San Francisco police spokesperson Steve Mannina said.
They were attacked on Tuesday just after the 5pm closing time outside the zoo’s Terrace Café on the east end of the 400ha grounds.
It was unclear how the tiger had escaped or how long it had been on the loose. The Siberian tiger, named Tatiana, attacked a zookeeper last December during a public feeding, according to the zoo’s director of animal care and conservation.
The zoo, which is open 365 days a year, was evacuated immediately after the attack was reported.
Police arrived to find the tiger on top of a victim.
The tiger then started moving toward a group of approaching police officers, and they opened fire with handguns, Mannina said.
The two injured men were in critical but stable condition at San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco fire department spokesperson Lieutenant Ken Smith said.
“This is a tragic event for San Francisco,” Smith said. “We pride ourselves in our zoo, and we pride ourselves in tourists coming and looking at our city.”
Authorities did not believe there were any other people attacked, but because it was dark they could not be certain. Investigators remained on the scene and Smith said a thorough sweep of the grounds would be conducted in the morning.
Officials at first worried that four tigers had escaped, but only one got out of its pen, Mannina said.
Tatiana is one of two Siberian tigers in the zoo’s collections, according to its website. Last December, the 159kg animal reached through the cage’s iron bars and badly lacerated the zookeeper’s arm. The zoo’s lion house was temporarily closed during an investigation.
California’s division of occupational safety and health blamed the zoo for the assault and imposed an $18 000 penalty, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.—Sapa-AP
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