Dhaliwal: “We Yelled & Waved At Tiger.”

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 18th, 2008

zoo revisions

South Africa’s News 24, via reports from San Francisco, shared the following summary late on January 18, 2008.


One of the three victims of the San Francisco Zoo tiger attack was intoxicated and admitted standing atop a railing of the big cat enclosure and yelling and waving at the animal that would later maul them, killing his friend, police said in court documents.

Paul Dhaliwal, 19, told the father of Carlos Sousa Jr, 17, who was killed, that the three yelled and waved at the tiger but insisted they never threw anything into its pen to provoke the cat, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The affidavit, which requested a search warrant for the surviving victims’ cell phones and car, also cites multiple reports of a group of young men taunting animals at the zoo, the Chronicle reported on Thursday.


“As a result of this investigation, (police believe) that the tiger may have been taunted/agitated by its eventual victims,” according to Inspector Valerie Matthews, who prepared the affidavit. Police believe that “this factor contributed to the tiger escaping from its enclosure and attacking its victims,” she said.

Sousa’s father, Carlos Sousa Sr, said Dhaliwal told him the three stood on a one-metre-tall metal railing a few feet from the edge of the tiger moat. “When they got down they heard a noise in the bushes, and the tiger was jumping out of the bushes on him (Paul Dhaliwal),” the documents said.

Police found a partial shoe print that matched Paul Dhaliwal’s on top of the railing, Matthews said in the documents.

The papers said Paul Dhaliwal told Sousa’s father that no one was dangling his legs over the enclosure. Authorities believe the tiger leaped or climbed out of the enclosure, which had a wall a metre shorter than the recommended minimum.

The affidavit also cites multiple reports of a group of young men taunting animals at the zoo, the Chronicle reported. Mark Geragos, an attorney for the Dhaliwal brothers, did not immediately return a call late on Thursday by The Associated Press for comment. He has repeatedly said they did not taunt the tiger.

Calls to Sousa’s father and Michael Cardoza, an attorney for the Sousa family, also weren’t returned.

Alcohol, marijuana

Toxicology results for Dhaliwal showed that his blood alcohol level was 0.16% after the attack – twice the legal threshold for drunkenness – while his 24-year-old brother Kulbir Dhaliwal’s blood alcohol level was 0.04% and Sousa’s was 0.02%, according to Inspector Valerie Matthews, who prepared the affidavit.

All three also had marijuana in their systems, Matthews said.

Kulbir Dhaliwal told police that the three had smoked pot and each had “a couple shots of vodka” before leaving San Jose for the zoo on December 25, the affidavit said.

Zoo spokesperson Sam Singer said he had not seen the documents but believed the victims did taunt the animal, even though they claim they hadn’t.

“Those brothers painted a completely different picture to the public and the press,” Singer said. “Now it’s starting to come out that what they said is not true.”Zoo attack tiger ‘was taunted’


Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
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.

13 Responses to “Dhaliwal: “We Yelled & Waved At Tiger.””

  1. PhilsterUK responds:

    Imagine the horrible situation. After countless years without hard proof a bigfoot is miraculously captured and placed in a zoo. the worlds attention is upon it, bigfoot mania sweeps the world! One day 3 drunk kids lean in to the enclosure to drunkly taunt the confused wild creature. The bigfoot attacks and the police move in to kill the only example known to science. This nightmare situation ran through my head the first time I read about this story. I know this would rely on a series of events so unlikely as to be almost ridiculous but if it can happen in one zoo then why not another?

  2. olejason responds:

    I think the other two men should be arrested

  3. Justncredible responds:

    The tiger was being a tiger, it is a non thinking predator. No matter what the guys did they are not to blame nor is the tiger to blame, it is clearly the zoo’s responsibility to make sure they can not escape. The press is doing everything they can to make people think it is not the tiger or zoo’s fault.

    Bottom line is they got mauled outside of the cage, nothing else matters, unless they unlocked the gate themselves they can not be blamed. The media is sick to try and paint these guys as the evil bad people.

  4. Lestat3407 responds:

    I couldn’t agree with you more Justn. As I stated in an earlier post on this subject, the zoo was irresponsible to house a predator like this without determining its capabilities to escape , or to imagine every possible encounter with spectators, even stupid ones. To further press the zoo’s liability, one would have to ask why there were “several reports” of someone taunting the tiger and no one from the zoo acted upon the reports. While I find the taunting of the tiger to be an unbelievably immature and stupid thing to do, I can’t imagine anyone but the zoo being responsible. One could imagine all sorts of situations that may have engaged the tiger’s instincts to escape the enclosure. A human eating, a sick child, a large sick bird being present on the other side of the moat, etc. This zoo didn’t even have the MINIMUM suggested wall height. Could it have possibly cost the zoo that much money to build the wall a few feet above the minimum? It may now.

  5. CamperGuy responds:

    This remains a tragedy.

    Taunting the tiger was cruel and very misguided. The taunting only put on display the weakness of character of those involved. Real men seek to protect not harm.

    My feelings toward the young men involved aside, the fact remains the Zoo has the much greater burden.

    The possible danger a tiger poses to an unprotected human is not realistically debatable. The zoo clearly should have taken extra-ordinary measures to ensure the tiger could not escape its enclosure. The zoo may have thought it had done this. The wall not being high enough is a problem. When did the zoo know the wall was not high enough and upon being aware what was the zoos disposition to correct the problem?

    I expect the zoo will be sued and will agree to settle out of court with details to remain undisclosed.

  6. Ann Unknown responds:

    Could the missing element here not necessarily be a safer zoo enclosure (Agreed – this is a good idea) or more strongly enforced laws concerning behavior (Agreed – public drunkenness, and the taunting of dangerous animals is a hazard to innocent bystanders, as well as cruel to the animals)? What may actually be lacking here is – an available outlet for young men, with defective common sense, to voluntarily remove themselves from the human gene pool?

    Recalling the Lascaux cave panel, sometimes referred to as “the dead man and the wounded bison”, this calling-of-the-man-herd has no doubt been going on for millions of years. But where, today, can these would-be breeders go to prove, or NOT prove, their worthiness? Perhaps a ticket to tiger, or grizzly country is in order. (Rites Of Passage Tours: All expenses payed, no return fare guaranty; no guards, barriers, or modern weapons provided)

    If not – then what can we expect our species to evolve into in the coming epoch? I foresee a foreboding future, in which huge, ever-escalating tax burdens are enacted to protect us – from ourselves!!!

    Here’s to a future where the “Darwin Awards” are taken more seriously – and to a much better fed population of (currently) endangered animals.

  7. red_pill_junkie responds:

    Unfortunately we live in a world where a moment of stupidity can cause you and other people around your life; happens all the time when someone thinks its ok to drink and drive (which these kids ALSO did BTW). This sad incident was a more extreme example.

  8. Pvolitans responds:

    The difference between genius and stupidity is that the former has its limits.

    Who ever suggested that a leg was dangling over the ledge should be put away immediately. The force of a 300+ pound animal grabbing on to a human leg would have either snapped it off, pulled the owner of the leg into the enclosure, or, assuming the leg stays intact, resulted in severe lacerations from the animal’s claws.

    The wall must definitely have been too low. In other words, they underestimated the tiger.

  9. kittenz responds:

    If the boys had jumped into the cage, and then had been mauled, I would say, “It’s their own fault and they deserved what they got”. But they did not. I believe that they did taunt the tigers, and I wish that they had been caught at it and put out of the zoo, or arrested. But the tiger jumped out of its cage and attacked them.

    The tiger should not have been able to get out of the cage. Zoos have to make every effort to ensure that animals cannot escape from the safety of their cages. This zoo was informed years ago, before they even acquired this particular tiger, before she was even born, that the tiger housing was inadequately secure. They chose to ignore that. They are at fault.

  10. Kushtaka responds:

    Clearly, with an adequate enclosure, this horror would not have happened. It is human nature to want to feel fear without being “in danger” — hence the popularity of roller coaters, horror films, bungee jumping, and the like. This is why hearing about young men taunting a tiger is not too surprising. I personally have witnessed zoo visitors that have managed to get INSIDE animal enclosures. I am in awe of such stupidity. At least the young men in the tiger story here did not take their ignorance that far. Still, they suffered the consequences — the consequences of their own misguided misbehavior…the consequences of the irresponsibility of the zoo…and the consequences of being exposed to a capable predator that is not unknown for man-eating. This doesn’t make the tiger a monster, by any means. I RESPECT predators. (That is why I am still alive today, despite close encounters with large predators in the wild while un-armed.) The tiger was just doing what is natural for a tiger. As were the young men, by feeling superior (in their safety) to an animal that could kill them on a level playing field. Unfortunately, thanks to the zoo, they all got to play on that level playing field on that fateful day. And everyone lost…

    Sidebar to “Ann Unknown.” Mega dittos! You’re awesome! We should start our own cult together. 🙂

  11. plant girl responds:

    This is a tragedy…for the tiger.

  12. mystery_man responds:

    I agree that the zoo is responsible for the safety of the people going there, no matter what the behavior of those in attendance. I think I should be able to go to the zoo with my young daughter and be able to enjoy an educational day without having to worry about being mauled by some animal that got out of its enclosure because of somebody else taunting the animals. I understand that the zoo likely had no idea that the tiger could have done this, but taunting or no, the enclosures should have been designed with the utmost safety in mind so that this sort of thing can never happen no matter what the circumstances. Whatever those kids did to the tiger, it should not have resulted in a death sentence for them and it was the zoo’s responsibility to ensure that. The animals should not be able to get out and people should not be able to get in, period. I really do think it is that simple.

    I think this incident is going to cause a re think in the design of animal enclosures from now on in zoos that care enough or have enough money to do so. Unfortunately, the need for safety is going to mean that spectators will likely be farther away from the animals and we will have to sacrifice a good view to ensure these escapes don’t happen. It is going to be a balancing act between safety and proximity to the animals and some people may complain about this, but we must remember that these are powerful wild animals, not cuddly pets, and as such need space and respect. I’d rather be a little farther away from these creatures than risk a repeat of this unfortunate incident.

    This tiger was simply being a tiger. These are not evil creatures out to destroy us, but they are top predators that have instincts and need to be secured in the presence of people, especially young ones doing foolish things. Bottom line is the responsibility for this, in my opinion, ultimately falls upon the zoos that keep these animals.

  13. jgodsey responds:

    poor tiger – these guys were candidates for the Darwin award.

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