Just as the San Francisco Zoo was closing on December 25, a 350-pound Siberian tiger named Tatiana escaped and mauled three zoogoers. One person was killed, and police shot and killed the tiger. Tatiana is the same tiger who attacked a zookeeper and chewed on the keeper’s arm during a public-feeding demonstration a year ago.
Scientists at Oxford University have concluded that big cats become neurotic when they are confined. Given that the average tiger enclosure is about 18,000 times smaller than the animals’ natural roaming range, it is simply impossible for these animals to express instinctual behaviors, such as staking out territory in dense forests, choosing mates, running, climbing trees, and hunting.
Since 1990, there have been more than 220 such incidents—in 40 states—involving big cats. Four children and 15 adults have lost their lives, and more than 50 other people have lost limbs or suffered other injuries after being mauled. The animals involved are victims too: 75 big cats, including Tatiana, have been killed because of these incidents.
The San Francisco Zoo has already established itself as a facility that takes animal welfare issues seriously. In 2004, the zoo made the honorable decision to close its elephant exhibit and send its elephants to a sanctuary. Using the form below, please contact the zoo director and urge him to make the same compassionate decision for the zoo’s three remaining tigers.
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