Mauling victim was on drugs and alcohol

A 17-year-old killed in the San Francisco Zoo tiger mauling on Christmas Day tested positive for marijuana and alcohol, according to a toxicology report released Monday.

Carlos Sousa Jr., who was a San Jose resident, died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck sustained from the bite of Tatiana, a 243-pound Siberian tiger, according to the report by the San Francisco Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. At least one puncture to the frontal lobe of the brain would have made a quick death for Sousa. The manner of death was ruled as accidental.

Sousa tested positive for 6.6 nanograms per milliliter of the active ingredient in marijuana, about the same amount as someone who smoked two hours earlier, according to the report. His blood alcohol content was 0.04, about half the legal limit for adults when considered to be driving under the influence.

Questions about the sobriety of Sousa and his two companions, brothers Kulbir and Paul Dhaliwal, were raised after accusations that the three taunted the tiger. Paul Dhaliwal’s shoe print was found on a railing several feet from the moat in which the tiger was confined. The tiger first attacked Paul Dhaliwal and then Sousa, after he attempted to distract the tiger, according to police.

Unlike in earlier pictures, Sousa’s hair was long at the time of his death. He had it pulled back in a ponytail.Inside Sousa’s jean pockets, the Medical Examiner’s Office found his iPod and a ticket to the zoo.

Freeland Dunker, San Francisco Zoo’s chief veterinarian, performed a necropsy on the tiger. He found frayed hind claws, evidence that the tiger clawed her way over the 12-foot-5-inch wall. He also found a stomach full of meat, evidence that the tiger was just fed.

The tiger’s paws, head, stomach and tail also were examined by the Medical Examiner’s Office, and the results of the zoo’s necropsy were confirmed.

Disbelief from zoo staff members, limited access to radios and guns, a lean zoo crew and a low moat wall were all factors to blame in the fatal tiger attack, according to the results of an investigation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Both the Sousa family and the family of the other two victims have filed claims against The City, blaming the tiger mauling on poor zoo security conditions and the ensuing response.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Warning system within earshot of completion

Police are telling neighbors of the San Francisco Zoo not to panic when they hear “code red” warnings coming from the zoo Wednesday morning — it’s only a test.

At 110 decibels, it will be the first full-volume test of the zoo’s new audio warning system, which will eventually be used to alert patrons of an emergency, as well as tell them when it’s time to go home for the day, according to zoo spokeswoman Lori Lamarca.

Zoo officials began work on the system after a fatal tiger attack on Christmas Day, Lamarca said. In English, Spanish and Mandarin, the announcement will tell visitors that there is a “code red” in the zoo and instruct them to go to the nearest building and take shelter.

Zoo security also will perform monthly evacuation drills and hope to cross-train with officers from the Police Department in the near future, according to Lamarca.

— Beth Winegarner

Bay Area NewsLocal

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