Guest blog written by Maggie O’Neill.
Spending New Year’s Eve in San Francisco this year the buzz on the streets and around cocktail tables was
not about resolutions and champagne, but rather on big cats and a bizarre Christmas Day tiger attack. The story had gripped the city, and cities beyond the Bay as well, I am sure. Even my friends in Rome, perusing the cover stories of the International Herald Tribune, read about Tatiana, the Siberian tiger who had escaped her enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and mauled three young men (one to death) before being shot and killed by the SFPD.
Counter women at Macy’s, Starbuck’s baristas and everyone I spoke to could not help but take a stand for one side or an other. The Bhutto assassination, presidential primaries and Jamie Lynn Spears all took a back seat to Tatiana and the fateful incident at the San Francisco Zoo.
What we know happened this Christmas afternoon is that a young Siberian tiger escaped from its open habitat and mauled three young men. But one week later, the facts for the most part stop there. You see, no one who should be talking is talking. Crisis management plans, SF Zoo leadership and cooperation with authorities by the victims are nonexistent. However, speculation based on a few clues has everyone else coming forward to craft their own story. PR nightmare, tabloid dream.
Disgruntled employees are claiming they and the animals were treated badly by the Zoo Director, Manuel Mollinedo. They have told tales about overlooked issues – specifically the fact that Tatiana’s enclosure was almost four feet under regulation height for a Big Cat sanctuary. Mollinedo has remained relatively silent except for some finger pointing.