Zoo experts to analyze safety measures

Safety measures and practices at the San Francisco Zoo will be put under the microscope by a newly formed seven-person panel.

Members of the peer-review team assigned by the Mayor’s Office were announced during Thursday’s Recreation and Park Commission meeting.

Selected by city and zoo officials, the group will conduct a thorough analysis of the safety measures, zoo and Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis said.

Rick Barongi, director of the Houston Zoo; Patrick Thomas, director of the Bronx Zoo; Allison Lindquist, director of the East Bay’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Kenneth White, of the Peninsula Humane Society, will provide feedback concerning animal living conditions, Dennis said.

Also included in the group are Keith Larson, a Seattle-based architect, because of his background in zoo exhibit designs; Devinder Grewal, a risk-management specialist and Jeffrey Bramlett, of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. The group will analyze the zoo’s safety measures, Dennis said.

“These are all highly skilled individuals who each bring something specific to the investigation,” Dennis said.

Rec and Park General Manager Yomi Agunbiade said the peer-review team would begin analysis this weekend. Agunbiade,Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo and San Francisco Animal Care and Control Director Carl Friedman will oversee the panel.

Deniz Bolbol, a member of the Peninsula-based Citizens For Cruelty-Free Entertainment, expressed skepticism.

“This panel was selected by park and zoo officials. How can there be any accountability? The zoo needs to be reviewed by a truly independent authority, and that won’t happen until the Board of Supervisors conducts an investigation,” Bolbol said.

The zoo announced Wednesday that upgrades to the big-cat grottoes were nearly finished.

The exhibits were altered after a Siberian tiger escaped its enclosure on Christmas Day, killing 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and mauling his friends Paul Dhaliwal, 19, and Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23.

wreisman@examiner.com

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