Tiger Attack in San Francisco Zoo: Predictable?

Tigers Doing What Tigers Do Results in Tragedy

The tragic news of the escaped tiger killing one Christmas Day visitor and mauling two others at the beautiful San Francisco Zoo points to a conundrum among animal lovers worldwide: is the caging of wild animals inherently inhumane? And if so, when one of these ferocious hunting machines such as the tiger in question does what comes naturally, what does that tell us about how we approach animal conservation worldwide?

The San Francisco Zoo is internationally known for the enlightened treatment of its animals. Yet, according to the Born Free Foundation’s Big Cats Campaign, even in modern zoos, tigers, lions and other big cats repeatedly pace, frustrated because their hunting and territorial instincts are denied. It is the goal of the Born Free Foundation to promote big cat conservation in wild settings as opposed to zoos. They and a growing chorus of animal activists worldwide say that protecting these endangered species in wild settings is far more humane than conditions at even the most prestigious zoos

The safety of the San Francisco Zoo’s tiger confines has been called into question in the past. The same tiger attacked a zookeeper’s arm during a public feeding at Christmastime 2006, in an incident that the State of California found was a result of the configuration of the animals’ quarters.

Tigers are as unpredictable as they are beautiful. In addition to last year’s mauling of the San Francisco zookeeper, a Bengal tiger mauled and seriously injured Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy fame in a notorious on-stage incident.



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