Thursday, December 27, 2007

Stripey cats

SFGate reports that actual measurements have shown the tiger enclosure at San Francisco zoo to be 12 feet high instead of the reputed 20.

Earlier this week, zoo officials said the moat's wall was at least 20 feet tall. Today, they said it was little over 12 feet. Since the investigation began Tuesday, officials have given at least five different measurements for the enclosure, which is surrounded by a moat, two walls on either side of the moat, a small patch of grass and then another waist-high fence. Experts say that the depth of the moat and height of the walls could have a large impact on the animal's ability to escape the enclosure.

If the wall's been just 12 feet tall then all these years those stripey big cats have simply been humoring the patrons. They've stayed in their enclosures essentially of their own free will. Now it's fashionable to say that cats are miserable in captivity. But a lot of smaller cats I know are perfectly happy to eat and sleep the days away while their human slaves dish up the grub. Maybe tigers have been happy with the deal all along.

But as everyone who's seen cats knows, there are some days when you do something they don't like, such as accidentally step on their tails, and then the transformation from the placid bundle of fluff into a tornado is something to behold.

Maybe tigers are the same way.


Blogger Doug said...

Many reports also neglect to include the shoe and blood INSIDE the fence, or the footprint on the gate.
Probly racist to include that, since he was hispanic.

12/27/2007 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"then the transformation from the placid bundle of fluff into a tornado is something to behold."
Readers might want to consider their own safety at this site.

12/27/2007 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tiger Wall Was Too LowS.F. Zoo officials admit that the 12-1/2-foot-high enclosure is 4 feet below accepted standards.

Video Photos


List of maulings

Did victim taunt tiger?

Parents in shock

Tatiana was just 'being a tiger'

Press conference video

12/27/2007 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

On Wednesday, sources had said that authorities found a shoe and blood on the grass inside the tiger enclosure; today, Police Chief Heather Fong said there was no shoe found in the grotto.

A shoe was discovered near where the third victim was attacked, she said, and a shoeprint was also found on the railing of the waist-high fence surrounding the grotto.

"We have all three pairs of shoes from the victims, and now we will see if any of them matches the footprint (on the fence)," she said.
Truth is an elusive commodity in the News Business.

12/27/2007 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mike Savage is a big fan of Police Chief Heather Fong.

12/27/2007 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger tckurd said...

Pinecones, Doug.

Pinecones. Where there pinecones?

12/27/2007 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger tckurd said...

"It's not known why the tiger singled out the three visitors or why she tracked down the two wounded victims, apparently ignoring other zoo patrons."

- I know why

12/27/2007 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Yeah, me too:
These three lads loved big cats so much they stayed after closing time at the zoo.
Big Cat, like any self-respecting SF Union Member, was upset about working overtime.

...and those three lads just couldn't tear themselves away.

12/27/2007 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I'm sure all rules were followed by the lads, except for the one about the Zoo being closed, of course.

12/27/2007 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

My most vivid big-animal memory from Fleishhacker Zoo, was a Hippo that would twirl it's tail rapidly as it took it's constitutional.
Onlookers were showered with the results.
(even those of us OUTSIDE the fence!)

12/27/2007 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Nature is a complex system. The SF Zoo, was in it's own way, a miniature Jurassic Park. It's easy to underestimate nature; to think we can predict it. Just ask the Global Warming folks. They just know how nature will behave.

Even in some alternate universe without those 3 teenagers, for reasons we might never understand, one day, for some reason, a big stripey would have gotten the notion to leave the enclosure. And then he might have just nudged a patron. Or walked up to the cafe. Or he might have killed a dozen people in as many minutes.

I think primitive man understood the big cats better than we do. They carried spears not because they hated the big kitties, but because they understood they had minds of their own.

12/27/2007 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I posted the explanation in your Down thread, Wretchard:

"Almost all cats purr, including lions and cheetahs, though not tigers. Dr von Muggenthaler said that purring had to be advantageous to a cat to survive natural selection, but there seemed to be no obvious advantage for a cat merely to display contentment. A natural capacity for increasing bone growth and strength and reducing healing time was, however, "clearly advantageous"."
Tigers have not learned to
"Heal Thyself"

12/27/2007 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...


This was a Russian cat. And that's a category all on its own.

12/27/2007 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Picture of the dead Latino "youth" -- he has shark-eyes like Mohammad Atta. I'm on the tiger's side. I wonder if it was a gang initiation.

12/27/2007 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

he has shark-eyes like Mohammad Atta

Most 17 year olds know very little about the world and don't realize it. I think one of his relatives left $40 under the Christmas tree for him, but he never came home that day. There were presents for this kid somewhere, the sort that delight 17 year olds.

Me I don't know. If I'd been there I'd have felt obliged to try and help, stupid as it might seem. As a kid I beat off a man stabbing another man on a dark bridge by pitching coke bottles at him. It was easy to outrun the knifeman when I was 15 or so. Of course the tiger would have been a different proposition. Them mothers can hit 50 miles an hour.

12/27/2007 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Even the housecat is quick for a short distance.
The Cheetah, as the fastest land animal, is of course, the fastest cat and has been recorded achieving speeds of 96+ km/h (60 mph). Cheetahs also reach their top speed very quickly, meaning they have very rapid acceleration. One animal in Kenya was recorded on video accelerating from a standing start to 90 km/h in only 3 seconds. However even the Cheetah can only maintain such a speed for very short distances and after 500 metres it is exhausted. Most chases in the wild last for less than 20 seconds during which time the animal covers between 200 to 300 metres.

The Cheetah pays a heavy price for its speed, building up a large oxygen debt in its muscles and risking serious over heating on it longest sprints. After a 30 second chase it can take a cheetah 20 minutes to recover its breath, (breathing rates can be as high as 150 per minute after a run as compared with 15 per minute for a normal resting animal), and expend its excess body heat, during which time it is unable to feed on the carcass (assuming the chase was successful) and must risk having it stolen by hyenas, leopards or lions.

12/27/2007 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

All cats are good jumpers and some, such as the Serval, characteristically catch their prey by leaping onto them.

For the larger species a leap of 3 metres up to the roof of a house is easy. Both the Snow leopard and the Pumas have been observed making incredible leaps, including ones in the region of 18 metres (59 ft) out of trees or down off cliffs.
Naturally enough they also leap up cliffs and up into trees to heights in excess of 5 metres (16 ft) and the shear power of these animals can truly be appreciated by considering the Puma that was observed to leap 3.6 metres (11 ft 10 ins) up into the fork of a tree holding a dead deer in its mouth.

The secretive Snow leopard holds the world record for long jumping. One exceptional individual was observed by biologists to leap across a ditch which they could later measure has having a width of 15 metres (49.2 ft).

12/27/2007 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Every time I read about the Puma, I learn another reason why I should not still be breathing, save luck:
I once stood about 5 feet away from a Mountain Lion, taking pictures from my deck of the cat that got "trapped" inside our fence.
For some reason, instead of having me for lunch, he proweled around a bit, and then jumped up on an apple tree and leaped across the fence.
...piling bad luck on stupidity, the film in my Pentax had slipped off the take-up reel!
Always hated that cheap replacement for my Spotmatic.

12/27/2007 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Doug, That hippo at Fleishhacker Zoo that twirled its tail...isn't it on the Board of Supervisors now?

12/27/2007 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Well qualified, too!

12/27/2007 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger The Tetrast said...

Measurement error in design specs is a good way to leave in affair in such a state that "a rogue wave, or an unprecedented earthquake or a rare harmonic motion sweeps them away and demonstrates that perhaps something has been forgotten."

Maybe that's why one architect omitted measurements from his design specs for a new UN building, which Trump rightly made such fun of.

Although some find the very idea of measurement oppressive, measurement is fragile and measurement error can never be completely eliminated, so it's as if reality lacked positive final exactness. Surprises happen sooner or later. We've traded the hardly erring instinct of animals (e.g., cats) for technique and artifice, so when everybody acts like they're staying in a hotel and like fussiness is somebody else's job, then a 12-foot wall for tigers goes uncorrected. Likewise weather stations remain near heat vents, and so on. Specialization comes to seem overspecialization (the hotel guest's attitude) when know-how is not buttressed by more-widespread care-how, the system of values to guide the tech. Then they want the government to step in, to save them the trouble. I've seen the turnover of generations in my building, the oldsters were so fussy, while the current young have little critical common sense or curiosity in taking care of their apartments -- e.g., one left a radiator unconnected, so that steam filled the apartment when the heat was turned on long enough. O the bleakness and claustrophobia of measurement and follow-up, which they flee, only in order to be more narrowly focussed cogs in their machines.

12/27/2007 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

I once saw a polar bear kill a duck that landed in its zoo enclosure. It took less than a second. The duck never saw it coming. Don't ever underestimate the power of large predators.

Never forget that the cage is to protect us, not them.

12/27/2007 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

" Experts say that the depth of the moat and height of the walls could have a large impact on the animal's ability to escape the enclosure."

Experts of the obvious...

12/27/2007 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

"Today we went out and measured the moat ourselves," said zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo ...[and]... found that contrary to information they had on file in their office, the moat wall was 12 1/2 feet high - about four feet lower than is recommended as a national standard by cat experts."


My wife and I have stood in front of that enclosure dozens of times with our (now) two-year old. I think it fair to say that in doing so we reasonably assumed those in charge had taken necessary precautions.

Given a chance, my wife would do to Mollinado what Tatiana did to the hapless youth who exposed his unbelievable incompetence.

12/27/2007 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Was the Moat 20 ft deep, plus a 12.5 ft wall?

I dunno, I don't like cats. Young sun bears, now there's entertainment for two or three years. anyway. But these critters don't survive in the wild by being nice especially to humans.

12/27/2007 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Was the Moat 20 ft deep, plus a 12.5 ft wall?

If a Mexican could get across it, then why on earth would we think it would keep a tiger in?

12/27/2007 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Ferris said...

Having this happen in San Francisco is appropriate on so many levels...

Just for starters:

*) The local liberals have got a taste of what tiger conservation has done for villagers in Bangladesh and India.

*) Anyone who's been in the military would have been able to tell the difference between 12 and 20 feet - but that sort is few and far between in this town.

*) Tigers are not nearly as tolerant of taunting and abuse as Republicans.

12/27/2007 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

doc - i completely agree, but most of the talk i heard in the coffee shop this morning was of the "couldn't they have just shot the tiger with a tranquiliser dart?" variety.

any idiot (including me) could tell it wasn't 20 feet. but apparently Mollinard has never even looked at his own exhibit. I'm willing to bet the cronyism behind this fiasco is of new orleans scale.

12/27/2007 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Here's a video link to footage of what is apparently the actual enclosure of Tatiana the tiger. You can see the tree, the moat and the wall.

12/27/2007 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger tckurd said...

Nahncee, I thought that too about the deceased - had an untrusting look. I'm sure he was a perfect kid that never did anything wrong - they all are.

That's why I want to see what gadgets these youths had on them - and what secrets they may hold. Gang initiation these days does not go undocumented - gotta have proof.

Quite honestly, if the tiger hasn't jumped in all those years, and then does jump and hunts specific prey, leaving everyone else alone, I'm thinking there's got to be more here.

I'm not trying to ruin Xmas for the families of the victims or anything, but I don't want this to be about the tiger - tigers do as tigers do. The victims in this case are more involved. I'm sure those 2 in the hospital have been interviewed. Little Miss Heather better start gabbin.

I think, for all those years, those tigers enjoyed the attention. I don't think they enjoyed being whacked with pinecones, and when bait (i mean a leg) was dangled over the wall, well hell, who wouldn't bite?

12/28/2007 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger tckurd said...

When a tiger kills a gazelle, the tiger is just doing what tigers do. Only silly humans watch that video and feel sorry for the gazelle.

As they drool chicken wing sauce on their chin.

And admire their new leather booties.

12/28/2007 05:28:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I don't think Ms Heather has Straight Talk in her.
...and if she did, Gavin would have her replaced.

12/28/2007 05:44:00 AM  
Blogger Francine said...

tckurd, I don't feel sorry for gazelles, but I do feel sorry for 78 year old men when they get shot by vice presidents.

12/28/2007 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Odder and odder. These don't sound like typical Mexican gangbanger names.

... Amritpal "Paul" Dhaliwal, 19, or his 23-year-old brother Kulbir Dhaliwal ...

...The Dhaliwal brothers have been hostile to police in the current death investigation and were "extremely belligerent" in an earlier encounter with police this year, authorities say.

After the zoo attack, authorities said, the brothers had refused to give their own names, identify the victim or initially give authorities an account of what occurred.

A jihadist initiation?

12/28/2007 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger Arthur Dent said...

Jihad initiations require flaming rings of fire.

12/28/2007 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger free said...

Dhaliwal I believe is a Sikh name.

12/28/2007 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...


12/28/2007 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Dick wounded a LAWYER!

12/28/2007 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

(esp for ex-Dem!)

12/28/2007 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

I believe the SF Zoo tiger exhibit has been a fatality-free zone since its construction in 1940. Surely it is a coincidence that these three upstanding young men should have been chosen by destiny to be the first victims.

Anybody that is befuddled by the confusion over the measurements regarding the tiger wall needs to consider that in SF there is no confusion whatsoever--progressive math being what it is.

12/28/2007 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

It needs to be pointed out (in the mainstream media) that any speculation on whether the humans had been taunting the tiger --- and so provoking the extreme and unprecedented behavior --- has nothing whatsoever to do with the ethnic or cultural background of the humans.

It follows directly from the logic of the situation: a 60-plus-year history of safety suddenly overturned when three young men who have somehow managed to stay or get into the zoo after closing time are attacked, and there is debris in the Tiger enclosure that could not have fallen in naturally so it must have been thrown in.

When I lived in Cincinnati I got involved in doing some volunteer work at the Zoo --- painting backdrops for the Children's theater, and training to show tame and placid animals for kids to view close-up.

The professionals several times showed us collections of items that had been surgically removed from the stomachs of various animals --- Sea Lions, Seals, bears, etc. Ball point pens, folding knives, bracelets, plastic forks & knives, et cetera. Every day, it seems, people throw things at the animals to get some reaction or response, because the humans feel cheated if they drove all day and all they see for their money
is some stupid animal sleeping in the sunshine.

It sure as shit isn't just the kids --- it's the parents; adults do it just as much or more than kids. But it seems to be a universal problem, and the pelting eventually pisses off the animals enough to prompt some movement or protest.

It might be helpful to the general conversation if someone could find some information on what it costs a Zoo to treat animals for the injuries caused by the crap thrown at and fed too them by the visitors.

12/28/2007 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...any speculation on whether the humans had been taunting the tiger --- and so provoking the extreme and unprecedented behavior --- has nothing whatsoever to do with the ethnic or cultural background of the humans.

If the behavior of said human beings involves committing or provoking violent behavior in the commission of initiation rites, then their ethnic and cultural background most certainly *should* be taken into consideration.

This is like saying that we should be strip-searching white Swiss nuns in airports because the fact that all airplane terrorists thus far have been young brown Muslim men has nothing whatsoever to do with their cultural or ethnic background.

And it's politically correct bushwah, which I am getting very very very tired of being fed as being logical thinking.

12/28/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Tinian said...

Since the investigation began Tuesday, officials have given at least five different measurements for the enclosure...

It's always best to hire a surveyor before you have a problem.

12/28/2007 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger The Tetrast said...

It's best to hire a professional (surveyor or whatever) but necessary ALSO to think for yourself, alongside the pro, step by step. Pitch in and help and learn. You can't hire anybody to do your thinking for you. Hands-off people may get the paperwork right and the reality wrong. What can I say? Nobody likes to check and double-check, it doesn't feel productive and it may lead to going back and re-doing. There's decision-making, then there's means, then ends, and then there's checking, which is just something more, a fourth thing, deal with it, it separates us from vegetables.

We hired a professional insurance appraiser, bonded, the works, to estimate right insurance amoount for our building. I showed him architectural plans from 90 years ago which showed a slanted wall toward a certain corner of the building. He says, good thing you showed me that, I thought it was deformation, deterioration. The slant was quite regular but he had thought that it was deformation. I was glad that he noticed the slant but it bothered me that he hadn't asked me about it.

Knowing is individual, you have to get into the act somewhere along the line. That zoo boss is learning that paperwork is dandy but no flying carpet.

12/28/2007 10:05:00 PM  

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