It’s Official: Tatiana the Tiger was Taunted

February 17, 2011

By Adele

Well, DUH! Through the Freedom of Information Act, the AP finally saw the full report of the Christmas Day 2007 attack on brothers Amritpal (Paul) and Kulbir Dhaliwal and their teenage friend, Carlos Sousa, Jr., at the San Francisco zoo by Tatiana, a Siberian tiger who escaped from her enclosure and killed Sousa.

In spite of eyewitness reports of the guys acting rowdy, branches, pine cones, and a 9-inch rock found inside the enclosure (that could only have been thrown there), a human footprint on top of the enclosure that just happened to match Paul’s, and even Paul’s admission that they’d been teasing the tiger, authorities tried to paint Tatiana as a big cat who just went ape and tried to shred them for no reason.

I guess people needed it to justify Tatiana’s senseless murder by uniformed chicken-shits who’d never heard of tranquilizer darts and were later awarded “medals of valor” for killing the cat at point-blank range in cold blood.

AP discovered that Laurie Gage, a tiger expert who contributed to the USDA report, had her statement stricken from the report: “With my knowledge of tiger behavior, I cannot imagine a tiger trying to jump out of its enclosure unless it was provoked.”

Long-time Cats Working readers will remember that Fred covered this story extensively, including the interesting lives of the Dhaliwal brothers. After the incident, they continued their routine of drinking and driving, stealing, drugging, lying to police, and bouncing in and out of jail.

Represented by lawyer Mark Geragos, in 2008 the brothers filed a civil suit and walked away with a settlement of $900,000 from the zoo.

On the first anniversary of Tatiana’s demise, local sculptor Jon Engdahl unveiled his memorial to Tatiana, sitting halfway up San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill. San Francisco Citizen got some great photos of the sculpture.

If you want to see all the actual documents, here’s a link courtesy of the San Jose Mercury News.

Tiger Tale with a Happy Ending

August 31, 2010

By Cole

It happened on August 28 at Jungle Island in Miami. A white-handed gibbon named Watson got out of his enclosure and taunted a 3-year-old Bengal tiger named Mahesh, causing Mahesh to jump his 12-foot chain link fence with a 2-foot barbed wire overhang and take a stroll through the zoo.

Mahesh (Photo - NBC)

Lucky for Mahesh, the humans screaming and running in all directions didn’t particularly interest him. At one point, he even came face-to-face with a 2-year-old girl. The big cat and the kid just stood there until the girl’s mother picked her up and quietly walked away. That act earned the woman one of those excruciatingly dull “15 minutes of fame” interviews on the Today Show, where Matt Lauer tries to milk a whole segment out of what I just told you, getting monosyllabic responses to his attempts to make the experience tense and horrifying.

MSNBC even went so far as to call it a “tale of survival.”

After about 20 minutes on the lam, Mahesh was coaxed into a cage and didn’t even need to be tranquilized. For now, he’s relaxing out of the public eye while the humans “investigate.”

This incident has been compared to the experience of late Tatiana at the San Francisco zoo. She was taunted by three human boys, escaped and killed one, and was shot dead, causing Cats Working to ask, “How High Can Tigers Jump?

If people haven’t figured it out yet, Mahesh gave them the answer again: “As high as they need to.”

Even though the fence is already 2 feet higher than state law requires, and no one was hurt, the state is considering charging the zoo’s owner with something so they can fine him. Anything for a buck. And they want the fence extended to 14 feet with a 4-foot overhang.

But at least Mahesh is still alive and not in any trouble.

Tatiana the Tiger Replaced X3

June 18, 2008

By Fred

Maybe officials at the San Francisco Zoo were quick to kill Tatiana the tiger when she escaped and attacked 3 boys because they knew another tiger had a bun in the oven.

On March 6, 5-year-old Leanne gave birth to 3 healthy male Sumatran cubs. The zoo thought there was only one cub for about a week, until Leanne got up to get a drink of water and revealed 2 more.

Cubs at 9 days old

The cubs’ father is 10-year-old George. Leanne and George were introduced in SF on a blind date arranged by a Denver aquarium and a San Antonio zoo, and it must have been love at first sight.

Leanne has been an excellent mother, and her cubs made their first public appearance together on April 23. Here’s some video of proud mother and sons, taken when they were about 2 months old.

It’s believed there are only about 400-500 Sumatran tigers living in the wild, mostly on the Indonesian island of Sumatra in national parks, so gaining 3 more is a big deal.

With these new additions, the San Francisco Zoo now has 4 lions and 7 tigers. The zoo’s Web site has lots of pictures of the cubs, but I couldn’t find anywhere that they’ve been named yet.

Let’s hope the zoo’s efforts to fortify the cat enclosure will protect all the cats from humans like the Dhaliwal brothers.

If cats were in charge, the Dhaliwals wouldn’t still be roaming free after causing Tatiana’s death and another boy’s. We’d be building a high wall with a moat around them.

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