Ah, that fearful symmetry ...

"...The San Francisco Chronicle, citing anonymous sources, reported Thursday that police are investigating the possibility that the victims had taunted the tiger and dangled a leg or other body part over the edge of the moat. The newspaper said police had found a shoe and blood inside the enclosure..."

OK -- I KNEW at first report, those young men were taunting the tiger, throwing things and yelling... because, having spent some 10 years as a docent at the San Francisco Zoo, I had seen so many incidents of that weird acting-out of the primal fear-anger response that manifests in hostility and aggression against caged animals, I had no doubt.

I couldn't tell you how many times I stopped people -- usually in the 17 - 18 - 19 year old range -- from taunting, throwing things at the animals and/or climbing over the fence in an effort to get closer to the animal or even inside their enclosure.

That does NOT mean it was OK for the tiger to be able to get out -- ANYONE who has worked at a zoo knows there will be assholes taunting primates and carnivores, and should be prepared for that. It wasn't OK for the current or past Zoo Director to not know the regulations concerning distances and heights of moats and walls. NOT OK for the director to say "Well, they (AZA) had someone out here and he didn't say anything about it."

I am trying not to say"they were asking for it," but the fact is, of course, they were.

They just thought they wouldn't get called on it and their their display of phony courage was supposed to end with them walking away clean, feeling good about being so tough ... surely, in recent years, we've seen enough chickenshit taunting, enough "Nyahh Nyahh ... Bring it On..." bullshit bravado from cowards in their hidey-holes, directors and executives of this organization or that surrounded by their bodyguards who taunt the things they fear from what they think is a safe (or undisclosed) location. We've seen enough of them to know how that game works.

But again -- anyone who spends time working at a zoo knows that and is obliged to (1) stop it when they see it and (2) make certain safety precautions are adequate ... EVEN THOUGH ASSHOLES ARE NOT AN ENDANGERED SPECIES.

The first time I said that comment above (that assholes aren't endangered) was to three young men about the same age as the tiger-taunters who I stopped from climbing over the rail to go down into the enclosure that held three mostly-grown Kodiak Bears.

In zoos, facing carnivores and primates, all sense and intelligence seems to disappear from some people.

I once watched a man pick up a wet piece of cloth that Cobby, the Alpha male chimp, had thrown at him (hell, a lot better and less messy than what Cobby usually threw) and do a windup to throw it at Cobby. This was a man in his 30's. And when I yelled at him "HEY -- DON'T DO THAT," he gave me a hostile and pugnacious stare and pointed at Cobby, shouting: "HE STARTED IT!!"

To which I said "He's a fucking ape! What the hell are you?"

And he looked at me for a moment and then lowered his throwing arm and returned to approximate human form saying "Oh, yeah, right."

(He was lucky -- people who angered Cobby used to walk away looking like it was Ash Wednesday -- except the spot on the forehead was brown instead of black.)

So yeah -- it's evolution in action -- three idiot punks learned a lesson about fooling with that fearful symmetry, and one of them won't get to pass his genes along.

Unfortunately, the police kill of Tatiana, while absolutely necessary at the point the situation had reached, also took a noble creature out of existence.


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