Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:

Singer says recent Zoo incidents were not dangerous

Sam Singer

By Julia Cheever

January 11, 2008

A spokesman for the San Francisco Zoo confirmed today that a snow leopard ripped a hole in a mesh cage and stuck out a paw and part of its head on Thursday but said there was never a danger of the animal escaping.

Spokesman Sam Singer said the mesh cage containing the 100-pound leopard was inside a second, larger cage.

"It had no opportunity of ever escaping and coming in contact with the public," Singer said.

The incident occurred a little more than two weeks after a 350-pound Siberian tiger leaped out of its grotto on Christmas Day and fatally mauled Carlos Sousa Jr., 17, and injured brothers Amritpal and Kulbir Dhaliwal, 19 and 23, of San Jose.

Singer said that another recent incident concerning a polar bear was not an attempt by the bear to escape but rather a case of an "obstinate animal."

Singer said zookeepers had to "cajole" the polar bear to move from one enclosure to another on the evening of Jan. 3, the night before severe rainstorms hit the Bay Area, and that the zookeepers eventually had to use a fire hose to do so.

The bear "didn't try to escape," he said.

Singer said the zoo's recently announced plan to raise the height of a wall around the polar bear exhibit was under way before the incident and is being undertaken to meet Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines rather than because of danger to the public.

Neither incident was dangerous, Singer maintained.

Also today, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission held a four-hour hearing at City Hall on the tiger mauling and on zoo plans for improving exhibits.

Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Dennis said Commission President Larry Martin opened the meeting by expressing condolences to Sousa's family and regrets for the injuries to the Dhaliwals.

The commission met in closed session for nearly an hour with lawyers from the city attorney's office to discuss what its agenda called "anticipated litigation."

City lawyers have said they expect the attack victims sue the city and zoo.

The panel then reopened the session to the public and heard reports from department and zoo officials, followed by one-minute comments by nearly 100 members of the public. Dennis said the comments ranged from support for the zoo to statements by animal rights advocates who oppose keeping animals in zoo.

In another development today, a dispute over possible evidence in the Dhaliwals' cell phones and car was transferred by a San Francisco Superior Court commissioner to Santa Clara Superior Court.

Commissioner Bruce Chan said the city of San Francisco's bid for a court order allowing investigators to inspect the items should be heard in the brothers' home county.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Socrates Manoukian will hold a hearing on the request in San Jose on Wednesday and in the meantime has ordered San Francisco police to retain custody of the phones and car until further notice.

City attorneys have said possible evidence in the items could be crucial in defense against the expected lawsuits. They told Chan in papers filed Thursday that materials in the car allegedly include a half-empty bottle of alcohol and "apparent evidence of drug use."

Shepard Kopp, a lawyer for the Dhaliwals, today called the suggestion of possible drug use "more character assassination." He said, "Nothing is going to come out of this that is incriminating," but said, "Our clients want their property back."


Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa