OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Oakland Zoo officials were reviewing social media video Tuesday of a man who climbed over a barrier at the tiger exhibition over the weekend.
The video was posted by Patty Fayad, who was visiting the zoo with her family. She said the man claimed to have dropped something and ignored warnings by a zoo worker that he was stressing the tiger. He was able to climb back over the barrier and was not injured.
On Tuesday, the zoo released a statement to KPIX 5.
“The Oakland Zoo meets and exceeds safety requirements set by state, federal, and AZA accreditation standards,” the statement read. “We hope that all of our visitors act responsibly, and don’t attempt to put themselves in potentially unsafe situations. We thank the Zoo guests that reacted to this individual’s actions when it occurred and alerting us.”
There are two barriers between zoo visitors and the tigers kept inside the exhibit: a 42-inch-tall wooden deck railing to keep the public back from the enclosure and a 25-foot-high chain-link fence to keep the tigers in.
“Some of the general public will do some pretty stupid things,” Oakland Zoo President and CEO Joel Parrott. “It’s rare when the public puts themselves at risk like that.”
Zoo officials say even specially trained animals experts aren’t allowed in the tiger’s enclosure.
“In the end, these are predators and their instinct is to be a predator,” said Parrott.
The incident was a frightening flashback to Christmas Day 2007 when three men taunted a female Siberian tiger at San Francisco Zoo and were mauled when the animal leaped out of its enclosure.
The tiger named Tatiana killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and injured his friends, brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, leaving claw marks etched in the asphalt and claw fragments in the bushes outside its pen.
Claw marks were also discovered near the top of the enclosure wall, which was lower than federal safety standards dictate, showing that the big cat was able to get enough leverage to pull itself out.
“It appears the tiger was able to jump from the bottom of the dry moat to the top of the wall, and gain enough purchase over the top to pull herself out over the moat wall,” wrote Laurie Gage, a tiger expert who investigated the scene for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, which oversees the nation’s zoos.
After sitting with its prey for a short time, Gage wrote that Tatiana likely followed the Dhaliwals’ blood trail for about 300 yards to where it resumed attacks. Photographs show blood-smeared asphalt where the tiger apparently dragged Sousa’s body.
“After a kill, I find it interesting the tiger would leave a kill to go after something else unless there were a compelling reason,” Gage wrote. “The tiger passed exhibits with warthogs which it ignored as it followed (the blood trail) of the two brothers to the Terrace Cafe outside the dining area.”
The tiger eventually died in a hail of police gunfire