Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 31st, 2007
Goodbye to Nonja.
The final days of December seem an appropriate time to talk about death, a metaphor for an internal feeling of the artificial human construction of a year ending. Death drives the mainstream news. How can we extract something useful out of all of this?
This year thoughts of death have occupied many due to the assassination of Bhutto in Pakistan, of course, and also because of the deaths of two unfortunate victims, Carl Sousa Jr. and the Siberian tiger Tatiana, both at the San Francisco Zoo on December 25, 2007.
Zoos are in the news. Zoos are always in the background in cryptozoology. Wild animals in our midst. Cryptids in our neighborhoods. Zoology for the people. Pay attention to what is being published. Learn some subtle things being conveyed.
The tracking and understanding of zoo escapes and wild animal attacks are significant subjects for study within cryptozoology because both topics often overlap with the data coming our way ~ as debunking explanations, as details within reports, and as components of the reasons for eyewitness confusion. The running joke about the local cryptids merely being animals that “escaped from a circus train wreck” is code for how often mystery animal dismissals are attempted with the “escaped animal” counterstory. As mentioned before, zoo animals don’t escape for long. These stories, furthermore, are no joking matter.
In the wake of what happened at the San Francisco Zoo, the media will be paying more attention to zoo-related news and printing more stories. Don’t ignore them. They are the tip of an iceberg we hardly ever get to see. Some of the stories are unbelievable. The release by vandals and eventual capture again of cougars in Wisconsin, the killing death of a “pet” tiger in Texas, and other animal stories are printed because of what happened on Christmas Day in San Francisco. The media awareness of an interest in zoo animals is there right now. Watch and learn.
Today, the death of Nonja, 55, the world’s oldest Sumatran orangutan in captivity, at the Miami Metrozoo is widespread media fare (over 350 articles worldwide as of this morning).
Meanwhile, the story and mystery of the tiger attack continues as daily news in the Bay Area, especially in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News.
Some of the articles about zoo operations have been anything but faltering. “Alarming gaps in oversight” is a mild way of saying what is being discovered.
The San Francisco Zoo knew their big cat enclosure had short walls for years.
Due to fiscal reasoning, zoo keepers have not been kept on the S.F. Zoo staff overnight for the last decade.
The director at the S. F. Zoo is under fire for creating an institution that cares more about member-oriented celebrations that zoo keeper safety and animal security.
The double-checking of local zoos’ safety is rightfully being mentioned in many articles, as reporters rediscover there are wild animals in their town. Zoos are a good thing, and don’t get me wrong, I am very pro-zoo. But there are good zoos and there are bad zoos, some of which are bad for people and bad for the animals within the zoological exhibitions.
Some of the examples coming forth are horrible.
The Malay Mail reveals how visitors to the Zoo Negara were observed this week to continue to have “climbed over fences, reached beyond the buffer zones to touch the animal enclosures and some even fed the animals.”
The situation there was documented “despite the near-mauling of a five-year-old child by one of the big cats. On Dec 22, one of the cats, first thought to be a spotted leopard but later claimed by the victim’s parents to be a puma, clawed Haw Qian Tong through its fence before pulling her towards itself resulting in scratches on her back, neck and mouth. The cat only released the child upon seeing her father charging towards it,” writes Darshini Kandasamy, in “Visitors Monkey Around,” in the The Malay Mail, December 31, 2007.
Goodbye to Tatiana ~ and Carl Sousa Jr..
Returning to the San Francisco Zoo, the mystery remains, and what happened there is of concern to many. Probably none are more interested than the parents who lost their son. As today’s San Francisco Chronicle Suzanne Espinosa Solis article notes, the two men may not be talking, but one family is certainly still waiting:
The father of the 17-year-old boy who was killed by a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo said Sunday that he would like to hear from the two young men who survived the attack.
“I would love to talk to them. I would love to hear from them,” Carlos Sousa Sr. told The Chronicle.
Sousa was responding to reports Sunday by some news outlets that claimed that brothers Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23, and Paul Dhaliwal, 19, had phoned him to say they were sorry and had done everything they could to save his son, Carlos Sousa Jr., in the Christmas Day attack.
But Sousa, reached at his home in San Jose on Sunday night, said he had not heard from his son’s friends, who were released from San Francisco General Hospital on Saturday.
“They have not called me,” Sousa said. “Last time I talked to them is when they told me my son wasn’t with them, and the next day I found out my son was dead, and that makes me a little angry, but there’s nothing I can do.”
The Dhaliwal brothers have been hostile to police in the death investigation, authorities have said. After the attack, the brothers refused to give their names to authorities or identify Carlos Sousa Jr. They also refused, until Thursday when they were interviewed by police, to give authorities an account of what happened. Police have not revealed details of their interview with the brothers.
The brothers had gone to the zoo on Christmas Day with Sousa Jr., who was supposed to spend Christmas evening with his family. When his father was unable to locate him that afternoon, he phoned friends, including the Dhaliwal brothers, who told Sousa Sr. that his son was not with them.
But authorities say the three friends were together at the San Francisco Zoo around 5 p.m. just outside the open-air exhibit belonging to a 350-pound Siberian tiger when she escaped.
The tiger, known as Tatiana, first attacked Kulbir Dhaliwal, who screamed, and then turned to Sousa, authorities say.
As the tiger mauled Sousa, the Dhaliwal brothers ran away, but Tatiana soon caught up and continued her attack until police shot and killed her – 21 minutes after they received the first 911 call, authorities said.
Sousa died where he was attacked, and the brothers were transported to San Francisco General Hospital with bite and scratch injuries. They were treated for their injuries at the hospital until their release Saturday.
Despite the intense public interest in understanding how the tiger escaped, the two surviving witnesses have not publicly revealed details about what they saw or what they were doing just outside the tiger’s grotto.
Some zoo officials have speculated that the tiger may have been taunted, but police have said they have no information indicating Tatiana was provoked. ~ by Suzanne Espinosa Solis, Chronicle Staff Writer, “Father of teen killed by tiger wants to talk to survivors,” Monday, December 31, 2007, San Francisco, California.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.