Mayor calls for hearings about zoo’s response

Mayor Gavin Newsom on Monday called for special public hearings with the Recreation and Park Commission and the Joint Zoo Committee following the Christmas Day fatal tiger mauling of a San Jose teen at the San Francisco Zoo.

The hearings, the first of which is set for Friday, should include “a review, analysis and any recommendations” to improve the lease and management agreement that determines how the zoo runs, according to a statement released Monday afternoon by Newsom’s office.

On Christmas Day, Carlos Sousa Jr., 17, died after being attacked by Tatiana, a 350-pound Siberian tiger. His friends, brothers 19-year-old Paul Dhaliwal and 23-year-old Kulbir Dhaliwal, were injured in the attack. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

In a letter written to Recreation and Park Commission President Larry Martin, Newsom requests the group convene to “further investigate how this incident happened and what measures are needed to prevent this type of incident from occurring ever again.” Also, the mayor is asking for an industry peer review from the Recreation and Park Commission’s general manager, the director of animal care and control and the SF Zoo director to examine the zoo’s operational and safety protocols.

Newsom also plans to add a seat to the city’s Disaster Council for the zoo director in order to incorporate the facility into the city’s emergency response process.

The San Francisco Zoo is jointly governed in the private sector by the San Francisco Zoological Society and by the city’s Recreation and Park Department.

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