City of Tampa’s risk small if zoo animal escapes

Published: Sep 8, 2006

TAMPA – If an exotic animal were to escape from Lowry Park Zoo, the city would have limited liability, the city attorney told Tampa City Council on Thursday.

The council requested the opinion of City Attorney David Smith after a 200-pound Sumatran tiger, Enshalla, escaped from her night enclosure Aug. 22 and was fatally shot by the zoo’s staff.

The zookeeper who left the enclosure unlatched has been fired and is facing a misdemeanor criminal charge, officials said. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has not yet submitted a completed report of its investigation.

Smith said the zoo has a $1 million general liability policy, plus a $10 million umbrella policy to handle “extraordinary” claims. The city owns the zoo’s property at 1101 W. Sligh Ave. and a city official sits on the zoo’s board of directors, but the city does not control the zoo’s operations, hiring or training, Smith said.

“Because we have very little control, we have very little risk,” Smith said.

Valerie Kalfrin

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