Stupid people tricks end tigress’ life
They were drunk. They smoked pot. They climbed onto a railing in an
off-limits area in the zoo, and they yelled and waved at a caged animal.
All that – and we’re supposed to feel sorry for the three men who were
victims of a tiger attack on Christmas evening at the San Francisco Zoo.
Give me a break!
Two of the men, 19-year-old Paul Dhaliwal and his 24-year-old brother
Kulbir, were mauled by the animal, which got out of its grotto home at the
zoo. The third man, their friend 17-year-old Carlos Sousa, Jr., was killed
in the attack.
Descriptions of what happened indicate the animal didn’t just randomly
escape from the enclosure, see the men and go after them.
The cat clearly had intent and that was to retaliate against the men who, in
their stupid arrogance, teased and taunted her.
They didn’t think it was such a big deal. Tatiana, a 250-pound Bengal tiger,
saw it differently. It’s reported the zoo autopsy showed the tiger’s claws
were broken and splintered from climbing the concrete grotto wall. She
My immediate reaction was that the men got exactly what they deserved. Since
then, with all that’s transpired, the lies and evidence, the stonewalling
and lack of cooperation with investigators, I haven’t changed my opinion.
They refused to talk to authorities, said they hadn’t done anything to the
cat, then changed the story saying they’d only been waving and yelling.
Apparently they were standing on a 3-foot railing overlooking the grotto.
That rail is just feet from the edge of the grotto moat and is off-limits to
Police found a shoe print on the rail that matches one of the men, and
foreign debris was found in the bottom of the moat. The men deny throwing
anything at the animal.
When their car, a 2002 BMW, was searched, police found marijuana, a
partially empty vodka bottle and, according to the San Francisco Chronicle,
“a kit commonly used to defeat drug testing,” which included “a vial of
Paul Dhaliwal was on probation from an earlier drunk driving incident. His
blood alcohol level the night of the attack was twice the legal level, 0.16.
His brother’s was 0.04, and Sousa’s was 0.02.
They were arrogant and stupid and used drugs and alcohol to reinforce that –
typical bullies. They were the “big, tough guys,” harassing a caged animal –
a big, dangerous animal, but they felt superior because it was caged. Dumb
animal, they thought. Easy target.
They gambled and lost.
The winner of that challenge was Tatiana, but she lost the face-off with
police who shot and killed her.
My only sympathy is for the senseless death of a beautiful animal – a big
cat that did what a cat does. Tatiana reacted to the situation in textbook
fashion. Anyone who knows tigers knows that.
Tiger markings are like fingerprints. No two are alike; Tatiana was unique.
The Siberian tiger is endangered, so her death is a true loss. Siberian
tigers are the largest of all cats; their main enemy is man.
While they can survive in zoos, in the wild, they travel more than 15 miles
a day searching for food. They mark their own territory and protect it well.
They stalk chosen prey carefully and silently from 20 feet or less. They
attack the neck to choke the victim or break the spinal cord.
Ask the two survivors about that.
Had those men spent more time educating themselves instead of juicing their
bodies with booze and drugs to give them courage, they might have saved
everybody a lot of grief, to say nothing of the problems facing the police,
the zoo and the city.
Celebrity/headline seeking lawyers are already on the job. Mark Geragos has
been hired by the Dhaliwal brothers, and the Sousa family has Michael
Cardoza. The ultimate goal is money, and the basic argument seems to be that
under no circumstances should an animal get out of a zoo enclosure. How that
plays out is anyone’s guess, but I suspect some big bills will change hands.
The survivors should be charged with inciting an attack and involuntary
manslaughter in the death of their friend. They should be heavily fined for
the death of Tatiana and pay all legal costs.
The men and the family say they didn’t “taunt” the tiger but “just” yelled
and waved. What does “taunt” mean?
My trusty thesaurus surprised me. Virtually all the descriptive and
comparable words involve disrespect: insulting, hooting, derision, mockery,
sneering, humiliate, insult, scoff, rude, indignity, hooting, disparage,
throw mud at, call names, point at and many others.
Anyone who knows animals knows they have feelings and pride and experience
shame and humiliation. Consider Tatiana, the biggest of the cats, with
majesty and pride in her abilities and survival skills. There she was, a zoo
captive, deprived of her natural instincts to travel and hunt for survival.
Along comes a trio of mocking, teasing drunks – ridiculing and demeaning
her. At that point, nature took charge. She overcame physics, got out of the
pen and focused her anger at the cause: the three hoods who thought they
were so brave.
They were – until reality, and the cat, hit them.
Tough luck guys.
An indication the cat wasn’t on a massive “people hunt” was that at one
point, after the mauling, she walked around then sat down and looked at
police who were there. When she stood up and moved forward, they shot her
That’s the real tragedy.
The world can do without thuggish, cowardly, arrogant, drug-using, boozing
But we need the tigers.
Barbara Simpson, “The Babe in the Bunker,” as she’s known to her KSFO 560
radio talk-show audience in San Francisco, has a 20-year radio, TV and
newspaper career in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.