Transcripts from 911 tapes after tiger mauling released

Kulbir Dhaliwal pleaded to a 911 dispatcher and zoo employees to help save his younger teenage brother, who had been viciously attacked by a 350-pound tiger, emergency communications tapes released Tuesday reveal.

Dhaliwal begged for an ambulance as well as towels to stop the blood that was coming from the head of his 19-year-old brother, Paul.

San Francisco Zoo employees called 911 on Christmas Day after the two San Jose brothers frantically approached the zoo’s Terrace Café in the moments after a Siberian tiger scaled the tiger grotto’s wall, attacking Paul and killing their friend 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr.

An audibly frustrated and scared Kulbir Dhaliwal called 911 more than 10 minutes later asking aloud why no help had arrived. The 23-year-old was also attacked after he called for help.

Dhaliwal’s call to 911 came in several minutes before 5:20 p.m., according to a time stamp on the copies of the tapes, which were released to the media Tuesday.

“Can you check up on [the paramedics] and can you see where they’re at?” Dhaliwal asked the dispatcher, who then explained that paramedics could not come in until the zoo is secured.

“It’s a matter of life and death!” Kulbir said. “Can you fly a helicopter right here? Because I don't see a [inaudible expletive] ambulance here.”

Earlier, at 5:05 p.m., a male zoo employee called 911 and reported that two men were saying an animal attacked them and their friend.

“I don’t know if they're on drugs. They’re screaming about an animal that attacked them, but there's no animal out,” another zoo employee is heard telling man who is talking to the 911 dispatcher.

At 5:10 p.m., a female employee is overheard on the tape of the 911 call from the zoo employee, “Tell them I got a tiger out. Code One,” the signal for a zoo lockdown due to an animal escape.

Between 5:10 and 5:13 p.m., zoo security located the tiger near the South Gate, where paramedics, police or firefighters tried to initially enter the zoo, but were denied access due to the Code One security concerns, according to emergency communication documents. The emergency personnel were subsequently let into the zoo through a service gate a few minutes later.

At 5:27 p.m., police located the tiger, while the animal was attacking the older of the brothers. Police then shot and killed the tiger, according to documents.

Excerpts from the tapes

Excerpts of an exchange between Kulbir Dhaliwal and a 911 dispatcher at 5:18 p.m. Christmas Day after a Siberian tiger escaped and attacked Kulbir, his brother, Paul, and fatally mauled 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. Kulbir placed a frantic call to 911 after he said zoo employees were unhelpful.

Kulbir: The tiger has one of my friends already.

911: You’reinside the cafe?

Kulbir: I’m right outside the Terrace Café.

911: What’s the yelling in the background?

Kulbir: I’m talking to the manager here, he’s a stupid ass, doesn’t want to gimme a towel

Kulbir: I need some towels!

[Yelling with the manager at the cafe for towels]

Kulbir: Man, what’s wrong with these people?

911: OK. I’m just going to stay on the line with you until the paramedics are with you, all right?

Kulbir: Can you check up on [the paramedics] and can you see where they’re at?

911: They’re on the scene right now but they have to stage until they’re given permission to go inside.

Kulbir: It’s a matter of life and death! How long …

911: I understand that, but at the same time we have to make sure the paramedics don’t get chewed out because if the paramedics get hurt then nobody’s going to help you.

911: The ambulance is staging. I need you to understand …

Kulbir: What you need to understand is that my brother is about to die out here!

911: Calm down!

Kulbir: Can you fly a helicopter right here? Because I don’t see a freakin’ ambulance here.

911: Stay calm — you have to stay calm for your brother.

Kulbir: It does not take this long to get an ambulance out here! [almost laughs sarcastically]

911: Stay calm. I am here with you.

Kulbir: What’s going on here? I’ve been on the call with you for eight minutes and [indecipherable] 10 minutes before, so it’s been 20 minutes.

911: OK, I’m trying to explain to you that we have to make sure that we can get inside safely.

Kulbir: How long does it take?

Below are excerpts of 911 call between a dispatcher and a male zoo employee from roughly 5:05 p.m. until 5:22 pm. This was a separate 911 call, and the employee is relaying information to the 911 dispatcher as he receives it from co-workers via walkie-talkies.

5:05 p.m.

Female employee: I don’t know if they’re on drugs … they’re screaming about an animal that attacked them, but there’s no animal out. He’s talking about a third person, and I don’t see a third person.

[On walkie-talkie to male employee]

Dispatcher: Is he saying he was bitten?

Male employee: The adult male … we don’t know if he’s on drugs.

Dispatcher: Is the patient saying he was bitten by an animal?

Male employee: He’s saying he was bitten by an animal, but there’s no animal escaped. But he could just be crazy.

Dispatcher: OK.

Conversation recorded on a 911 tape between the male employee who placed the call and female zoo employee via walkie-talkie.

Female employee : He’s saying he got attacked by a lion.

Male employee: That’s virtually impossible.

Female employee I’m walking away from him now so I can talk to you.

Dispatcher: Does the guy who’s possibly on drugs have any weapons or anything like that?

Male employee: There’s two guys. The one is talking about a third person … they say he got attacked by a lion, but they’re both very agitated. They might be on drugs.

5:10 p.m.

Female employee: Tell them I got a tiger out. Code 1. [On walkie-talkie]

Male employee: What?!

Female employee: We got a Code 1; we got a tiger out.

5:15 p.m.

Male employee: I have a fatality. This person needs help now!

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Supes approve $13.6B city budget in a 10-1 vote

Supervisor Stefani calls proposal ‘fiscally irresponsible’ in lone ‘nay’ vote

Filipino immersion proposal meets with resistance from school district

Bessie Carmichael parents say current program failing to teach language proficiency

Full lineup of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass announced

20th anniversary roots music festival streams on Oct. 3

Judge will rule later this week on shortening time frame for U.S. census data collection

A federal judge in San Jose heard arguments Tuesday on a preliminary… Continue reading

Most Read