Zoo upgrades costing millions

In the wake of a fatal Christmas Day tiger mauling, the San Francisco Zoo has spent nearly $2 million in security upgrades, an official said.

Increased staffing for after-hour shifts, a centrally located gun safe, direct access to the local police station and a handheld pendant that can trigger a code-red alarm with the touch of a button are some of the improvements San Francisco Zoo officials are implementing as a way to improve security at the facility.

“We have put forth a substantial effort to improve the functionality of the facility,” said Jesse Vargas, director of operations from the San Francisco Zoo.

The efforts are part of an ongoing reassessment of the zoo’s procedural strategy since the Christmas Day escape of a 250-pound Siberian tiger led to the fatal mauling of a visitor and serious injuries to his two friends, zoo officials told the Recreation and Park Commission on Thursday.

As part of the new changes, all zoo officials that work with a “code red” animal, meaning any creature that could be of harm to the public, have access to a device that if held down for two seconds will send out a security alarm blasted over the facility’s loudspeakers, Vargas said.

The zoo also changed its radio codes to better coordinate with the nearby Taraval Police Station, and increased the number of employees working after the close of the facility from one to two, Vargas said. Another could be on the way, he said.

A hot-line number is now visible at all zoo exhibits, so visitors can call security officials anytime they see an animal being harassed, Vargas said.

A recent report released by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums expressed disapproval at the zoo for having 29 of its 31 animal-care personnel and two ofits three veterinarians off work when Tatiana, the 4-year-old Siberian tiger, escaped from her grotto and killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr.

Last month, the two surviving members of the attack, Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23, and Paul Dhaliwal, 19, of San Jose, filed a claim against The City — which has joint responsibility of the zoo — citing issues of negligence, defamation and property grievances.

wresiman@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

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

Just Posted

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have taken different approaches to transit and infrastructure funding. <ins>(Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)</ins>
Bay Area transit has big hopes for a Biden administration

The best chance for local agencies to get relief may be a change in federal leadership

BART Ambassadors are being called on to assist riders in social situations that don’t require police force. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Unarmed BART ambassadors program formalized with a focus on community service

Public safety and police reform are key elements in campaigns of Board members Dufty and Simon

East Bay hills and Port of Oakland visible from Point San Bruno Park jetty. (Shutterstock)
East Bay agencies urge precautionary evacuations ahead of wind event

At least two East Bay jurisdictions suggested Sunday that residents in the… Continue reading

Nate Durand of Chug Pub created an election-themed cocktail which has several names: Biden Harris, Barris, Hiden, and/or Dem Juice. (Saul Sugarman/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Drink blue, no matter who

But bar parties aren’t planned for Election Day

Lee Vining and Inyo National Forest are excellent fall color tour destinations. (Matt Johanson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Gold Rush: Go now to see Sierra fall color

Maples, oaks, dogwoods, aspens glow in the next few weeks

Most Read