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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Manuel A. Mollinedo. He gets the award for the following.

SAN FRANCISCO - The director of the zoo where a teenager was killed by an escaped tiger acknowledged Thursday that the wall around the animal's pen was just 12 1/2 feet high -- well below the height recommended by the accrediting agency for the nation's zoos. San Francisco Zoo Director Manuel A. Mollinedo also admitted that it was becoming increasingly clear the 350-pound Siberian tiger leaped or climbed out of its open-air enclosure, perhaps by grabbing onto a ledge.

"She had to have jumped," he said. "How she was able to jump that high is amazing to me." Mollinedo said investigators have ruled out the theory the tiger escaped through a door behind the exhibit.

According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the walls around a tiger exhibit should be at least 16.4 feet high. But Mollinedo said the nearly 70-year-old wall was 12 feet, 5 inches, with what he described as a "moat" 33 feet across.

He said safety inspectors had examined the 1940 wall and never raised any red flags about its size.

"When the AZA came out and inspected our zoo three years ago, they never noted that as a deficiency," he said. "Obviously now that something's happened, we're going to be revisiting the actual height."

Mollinedo said the "moat" contained no water, and has never had any. He did not address whether that affected the tiger's ability to get out.

On Wednesday, the zoo director said the wall was 18 feet high and the moat 20 feet wide. Based on the earlier, incorrect height estimate, animal experts had expressed disbelief that a tiger in captivity could have made such a spectacular leap.

As almost always, it takes a tragedy for proper safety precautions to be put in place. Whether its airplanes, traffic lights, or walls at a zoo. One person died in San Francisco compared to the 270 in Chicago in 1979, but it is still a tragedy for the friends and family of the victim. The director's wrong statement about the height of the wall points to him either being 1- incompetent or 2- a liar. It don't matter which, somebody died as a result of this. That's why I name Manuel A. Mollinedo today's Knucklehead of the Day.


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Comments (17)

This got a lot of play here... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

This got a lot of play here in Denver as the tiger was born here...our moat is 18ft deep. Our whole Big Cat area was revamped around 5 years ago..
A year ago or so one of our keepers was killed by a lion. However it was determined to be her fault.

San Francisco should impeac... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

San Francisco should impeach the zoo director. ww

In other words thats a poli... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

In other words thats a polite play to blame an inanimate object's containment failure and a director's mis-characterization for the deliberate antics of a group of juveniles as they instigated the incident that led to the death of one and two other's injury?

Yes, a bit of fact checking and even a direct measurement would have prevented him from putting out a statement that missed the wall's height but to put the full blame of what happened on the wall not containing the tiger because it was 3' 10" shorter than the recommended height? I somehow suspect that the additional height would not have stopped the tiger which appeared to be solely motivated at gaining access to its targets.

Its kind of interesting how it didn't attack anyone else there isn't it?

Someone has pointed out els... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

Someone has pointed out elsewhere that it appears the victims became victims from being dumbasses, while the tiger did what tigers do, and after years in captivity at least died doing tiger things.

The wall simply enabled it.

Doesn't this zoo have a clo... (Below threshold)
langtry:

Doesn't this zoo have a closed-circuit security system with cameras all over the place? If they do, then they know how the tigeress got out of the enclosure. Why allow all the rampant speculation and not come out with what actually happens?

GMAC that is the dumbest co... (Below threshold)
Paul:

GMAC that is the dumbest comment I've read on the interwebs in at least a week.

WHO GIVES A RAT'S ASS if the critter was being teased??? The folks who built the pen -and continued to use the pen- are responsible for keeping the damn critter in. It's obvious the world is full of dumbass kids. They knew that before they built the pen.

Do you buy a car knowing that it will be crash proof as long as a drunk doesn't hit you... then it is OK for you and your whole family to die becasue -after all- he was drunk?

Dude, that was just stupid.

with the obligatory comment... (Below threshold)

with the obligatory comment that it is sad for the victim/family/friends, let's look at this without the liberal glasses on.

the wall was built in 1940 and this was the first time a tiger escaped, so for 67 or so years the wall pretty much did what it was designed to do, keep tigers in and away from the public. Was it built so that there absolutely positively would never be a case like this? Obviously not, but conservatives are supposed to accept that there are no guarantees in life, that s*** sometimes happens, even to good people, and that going through life trying to eliminate all of the scary things is a fools errand and turns us all into a bunch of babies afraid of our own shadows.

You are absolutely wrong ab... (Below threshold)
Ted:

You are absolutely wrong about this one, Bill.

Suppose you are driving and accidentally kill a kid who rode his bike out in front of you. You are asked how fast you were going and how far away you were when you started to brake. You give reasonable answers.

Unfortunately for you, a police car had a radar gun on you. You weren't going 25mph, you were going 29mph, and the skidmarks show that you didn't start to brake until a full 30 feet past where you claim.

You weren't lying, you were just giving an honest and reasonable - but incorrect - answer.

How heavy is your vehicle? Within 10 pounds please. If you're wrong, then you're lying.

The wall did it's job for years. There has never been so much as a close call. The zoo has been inspected and certified as safe, and nothing has ever been said about the wall being too low. Now obviously, in hindsight, it is. But for years and years, it wasn't apparent. It took an exceptional leap by a wild animal to scale that wall.

If you can't make reasonable estimates of your vehicle characteristics, then you are an incompetent driver. Or a liar.

Or the knucklehead who got this one wrong.

stevestrum - "Obviously... (Below threshold)
marc:

stevestrum - "Obviously not, but conservatives are supposed to..."

That's right, lets turn this into a political football, a conservative/liberal thing!

steve, you're a class A dickweed.

Tef - "Suppose you are ... (Below threshold)
marc:

Tef - "Suppose you are driving and accidentally kill a kid who rode his bike out in front of you. You are asked how fast you were going and how far away you were when you started to brake. You give reasonable answers."

Bad analogy, if reports are true and the tiger was taunted/teased into jumping his cage it wasn't an accident as your bike scenario would be. Your "bike rider" didn't tease the auto driver but did fail to follow normal and well known safety rules.

Secondly, underestimating the wall by a factor 50% (12 vs 18 feet high) isn't giving a reasonable answer when questioned. At best it's incompetent, at worst he's a liar.

The director's wro... (Below threshold)
stan25 Author Profile Page:
The director's wrong statement about the height of the wall points to him either being 1- incompetent or 2- a liar.

How about both? Seems to me, a lot of CYA is taking place now and it is just not the zoo director that is doing all of it. The City of San Francisco is just as at fault as the director. The reason? They hired him in the first place. We all know that the City Dads will fire the director (which he should be) and not any other people that were involved in the hiring of this guy, but I don t foresee any other action being taken and I would be very shocked if there were more firings.

Marc: I guess you subscribe... (Below threshold)

Marc: I guess you subscribe to the school of thought that calling one names is the sure fire to win arguments, right? No need to address the substance of their comments, just insult away and the crowds will stand in awe of your mighty wit. And '"class A dickweed", how can anyone stand in the face of such withering insults?

Of course this has elements of liberal/conservative lines. In case you didn't realize it, conservatives and liberals look at life in two very different ways. Liberals see something wrong and scream for more government involvement, for new laws, for trial lawyers to start suing, for more money to be spent trying (and inevitably failing) to keep bad things from ever happening to people. Liberals are the ones holding signs lamenting the death of the poor tiger and arguing that the police ought to have waited until they came up with tranquilizers. They're the ones, who in order to score some points, don't wait for the facts to come out before they they accusing people of being incompetent and liars. Conservatives, to put it simply, don't, if for no other reason that we've learned to be skeptical about what shows up in newspapers.

Paul, you suffering from a ... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

Paul, you suffering from a reading comprehension problem?

Try reading what I wrote again, 2nd paragraph.
The tiger WAS motivated, otherwise it wouldn't have come out of the enclosure.

I find it fascinating how q... (Below threshold)
LenS:

I find it fascinating how quick people are to absolve the tiger and to condemn the victims. Which is amazing because tigers are vicious man-killers in the wild who do all sorts of amazing things. I doubt anyone in India would be surprised by a tiger leaping over a 12 foot wall. There's a great video of a tiger in India leaping up on top of the head of an elephant to take a swipe at park rangers riding the elephant.

The reaction of so many that it must be the kids fault reminds me of the reaction of Westerners to that killer Indian wolf pack back in the 90's. So many had this image of the wild wolf that never kills people that they couldn't accept that wolves could cleverly and repeatedly hunt children. The noble wolf just couldn't do such a thing in their eyes.

We're seeing the same thing again where every rumor that indicts the kids ("shoe in caged area") is quickly accepted as truth but the idea that maybe this was a mankiller that just realized it could get at the food above is quickly dismissed.

stevestrum - "No need t... (Below threshold)
marc:

stevestrum - "No need to address the substance of their comments, just insult away and the crowds will stand in awe of your mighty wit."

Thanks for noticing, I place many crowds in awe.

Your adulation aside (I've gotten much more from MUCH better), I did address your alleged "substance," and deemed it entirely inappropriate to inject partisan politics into the issue.

And more good measure....ASSHAT!

Langtry wrote- Doesn't this... (Below threshold)

Langtry wrote- Doesn't this zoo have a closed-circuit security system with cameras all over the place? If they do, then they know how the tigeress got out of the enclosure. Why allow all the rampant speculation and not come out with what actually happens?

That would work. Unless the video shows the zoo to be at fault and they'd rather see the video buried and forgotten.

Bill

Just wait those animal righ... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

Just wait those animal rights wackos will be sending flowers or bringing flowers to the zoo and place them around the tigers cage or stand around the cage doing wacky new age earth prayers going OOOOMMMM OOOOMMMM OOOMMMM around the tigers area knowing how nutty they are




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