Brothers who were attacked may have been drinking, zoo says

Two brothers mauled when a Siberian tiger escaped her enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo have reportedly taken on a high-profile lawyer to deal with plentiful attention and accusations, including a recent revelation that there may have been alcohol in the mix.

According to public relations specialist Sam Singer, who was hired by the San Francisco Zoo over the weekend, the workers noticed an empty bottle of vodka sitting on the front seat of the car driven by one of the victims. The workers notified police and the car was towed pending the completion of the investigation, Singer said.

<p>The criminal investigation is still ongoing and police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens said Tuesday that the Department wasn’t going to confirm details until it was completed.

Mark Geragos, who has handled several high-profile cases such as the Scott Peterson murder trial in Redwood City, told ABCNews.com Tuesday that he is representing Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, the two brothers who were mauled along with Carlos Sousa Jr.

San Francisco police Chief Heather Fong has repeatedly said investigators didn’t have any evidence that would suggest the mauling victims had taunted the 350-pound Siberian tiger, and Tuesday Geragos said such allegations were “an urban legend.”

Despite being the only link to what actually happened on Christmas Day, the brothers remain tight-lipped. They have yet to speak to either Sousa’s family or the media.

The zoo is scheduled to open Thursday morning, but the big cat enclosures will remain closed to the public. Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo announced Monday that the exhibit would get a face-lift before opening. The City’s Recreation and Parks Department will oversee the project.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums are assembling a group of prominent zoo directors to visit and consult with San Francisco Zoo management on safety issues. The panel is expected to meet early next week.

bbegin@examiner.com

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