Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Thursday, July 2, 2009

San Francisco Zoo Struggles After Tiger Attack

Things have been tough at the San Francisco Zoo after Tatiana the Siberian tiger attacked those three people in 2007. Here's an article that explains the hard times the Zoo has faced since then.

It's a long list. From the San Francisco Chronicle....
The attacks led to intense scrutiny from the city and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which threatened to yank the zoo's accreditation. Supervisor Chris Daly made an unsuccessful attempt to force the zoo to become a rescue facility, legislators questioned the zoo's management, and the zoo's director was ousted. Animal experts descended for investigations of their own, and employee morale sank to an all- time low.

The zoo's budget fell into the red as it tried to recover. Now, facing a $2.2 million budget shortfall, the zoo is considering layoffs and cutting back hours. The zoo made major changes to its emergency-response procedures, including raising the wall of the tiger grotto, found to be about 4 feet shorter than what national standards recommend.

Insurance companies and the city settled lawsuits in conjunction with the fatal mauling and a 2006 attack of a zookeeper who was assaulted by the same tiger during a public feeding. The Dhaliwals were awarded $900,000. The other settlements were confidential.

The lion house, which provided sleeping cages for all the zoo's big cats, was shut down. It reopened two weeks ago with $250,000 in safety upgrades, but without the public feedings.

The bad publicity resulted in $430,000 in canceled memberships and a loss of $1.2 million in corporate and individual donations. Attendance dropped by 20,831 to 904,000 in the 2008-2009 fiscal year, said Wayne Reading, the zoo's chief financial officer.

The zoo is projecting a $17 million budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, down $3 million from the current budget.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's really unfortunate that this zoo is suffering -- mostly due to the irresponsible acts of 3 immature young men. I was at the San Francisco Zoo a couple months ago and I can verify that the big cat exhibits (including the tigers) are quite safe. They can done everything necessary to make it 100% safe for their visitors.

Despite the criticisms, there is a lot to like about this zoo. With Grizzly Gulch, African Savanna, Lemur Forest, a new baby gorilla, and one of the nation's best children's zoos -- there are still some good reasons for Bay Area folks to support their local zoo. I hope they do.

Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America's Best Zoos