Oakland Zoo raises tiger fence

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Oakland Zoo raises tiger fence

Changes made in reponse to S.F. attack

Article Created: 02/16/2008 02:38:58 AM PST

OAKLAND ? Visitors to the Oakland Zoo this weekend will find two new changes ? a new exhibit and a taller fence around the zoo’s tiger enclosure.

Zoo officials raised the fence from 13 feet to 16 feet after Christmas Day’s deadly tiger mauling at the San Francisco Zoo, when a tiger escaped its enclosure and killed one teen and wounded two others.

Following the attack, San Francisco Zoo officials acknowledged the fence around their enclosure was just 12 1/2 feet high. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums ? a national accrediting body for zoos ? recommends that walls around a tiger exhibit be at least 16 feet 4 inches high. That height is a guideline, not a requirement.

Following the San Francisco attack, the Oakland Zoo said it would redo its fence to ensure additional safety. “We just felt that we should take a look of that in light of what went on” in San Francisco, said Nancy Filippi, director of marketing. “We just want to be as safe as possible.”

Besides the extra height, the new chain-link fence also includes an upper lip to further guard against escape.

Meanwhile, the zoo is preparing today to christen its newest exhibit, a Kikuyu hut that replicates a woman’s hut in one of the Kenyan tribes.

Though the exterior of the 23-foot circular hut opened in 1998, the grand opening today celebrates a reconstruction of the interior that has been nine months in the making. The grand opening festivities will include a trio of Nigerian musicians performing traditional West African songs, an array of African inspired food, face painting and more.

Zoo Executive Director Joel Parrott worked closely with zoo carpenter Rick Mannshardt to recreate the hut based on a pre-colonial description from anthropologist Louis Leakey, who is known for his research into human origins.

“Because (Leakey) had very detailed accounts, we used (his) book very successfully to build an authentic interior for this hut,” Mannshardt said. “So this is really what this village would have been like all around and it was nice to finally bring this to completion.”

In central Kenya, the Kikuyu structured their homestead so as to allow different huts for different people in the family. Inside the cool replicated dung-walls of the hut at the zoo, a soundtrack of cicadas’ chirps to accompany descriptions of sleeping quarters that are partitioned off for mother and daughter, a kitchen and pens for animals.

The grand opening begins at

10 a.m., with food tasting from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The exhibit opening is free with regular zoo admission, $6 for children and seniors, $9.50 for adults. The zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road in Oakland. Visit http://www.oaklandzoo.org for more information.



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