Keeping Zoo Tigers Caged

Thursday, December 27th 2007, 5:00 pm
By: News On 6

Zoo managers in San Francisco are still trying to figure out how a tiger got out of its cage and killed a teenager. The tiger also mauled two other men before police shot and killed it. The director of the San Francisco Zoo has said the wall around the tiger exhibit is almost six feet shorter than originally reported and shorter than industry guidelines. The News On 6’s Steve Berg reports Tulsa zookeepers say it is very unlikely that a tiger could ever escape from the cage here on its own.

Anthony Albert says it doesn't make him nervous for him and his daughter to be close to the Tulsa Zoo's tiger, but it is imposing. In fact, you might be surprised to know that not even trained zookeepers come in direct contact with tigers.

"Our tigers, they are wild animals. We do not ever go in with the tigers. We always make sure there are bars between our keeper staff and the tigers,” said Tulsa’s assistant zoo director Dwight Scott.

Tulsa's assistant zoo director Dwight Scott says he's just as mystified at how a tiger could get out of a cage without any help. The wall in Tulsa ranges from just below 16 feet to almost 17 feet, higher than San Francisco's and close to or surpassing the zoo association's recommended guidelines.

Also, obstacles like rocks and large logs are placed not just to dress up the exhibit but to prevent the tiger from getting a running start. Scott says the zoo association has been in the process of revising recommendations, and he says the Tulsa Zoo will make whatever changes result, if any, from the San Francisco incident.

“We want to make sure that whenever guests come out to the zoo, they can rest assured that we have a safe environment for them,” said the zoo’s Dwight Scott.

The tiger at the Tulsa Zoo has arthritis in her hips, making it even less likely for her to escape. But, the zoo will soon be getting two young male tigers.

Watch the video: Staying Safe Around Tigers