Zoo Director Says Tiger Wall Was Too Low

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The director of the zoo where a teenager was killed by an escaped Siberian tiger acknowledged Thursday that the wall around the animal's enclosure was 12 1/2 feet — well below the height recommended by the main accrediting agency for the nation's zoos.

According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the minimum recommended height for tiger exhibit walls is 16.4 feet.

San Francisco Zoo Director Manuel A. Mollinedo said safety inspectors had examined the wall and never raised red flags about its size.

"When the AZA came out and inspected our zoo three years ago, they never noted that as a deficiency," Mollinedo said. "Obviously now that something's happened, we're going to be revisiting the actual height."

On Wednesday, Mollinedo said that the wall was 18 feet high, and that the moat around the tiger's pen was 20 feet wide. On Thursday, Mollinedo said the moat was 33 feet wide.

Investigators have yet to say how the 300-pound tiger got out of the pen. But based on the initial estimates of the height of the wall, animal experts expressed disbelief that a tiger in captivity could make such a spectatular leap.

The accrediting association did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday about the height of the wall.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Two days after an escaped tiger killed a teenager at the San Francisco Zoo, the zoo director acknowledged Thursday that the wall around the animal's enclosure was 12 1/2 feet — well below the height recommended by the main accrediting agency for the nation's zoos.

According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the minimum recommended height for tiger exhibit walls is 16.4 feet.

Zoo Director Manuel A. Mollinedo said safety inspectors had examined the wall and never raised red flags about its size.

"When the AZA came out and inspected our zoo three years ago, they never noted that as a deficiency," Mollinedo said. "Obviously now that something's happened, we're going to be revisiting the actual height."

On Wednesday, Mollinedo said that the wall was 18 feet high, and that the moat around the tiger's pen was 20 feet wide.

Investigators have yet to say how the tiger got out of the pen. But based on Mollinedo's initial estimate of the height of the wall, animal experts expressed disbelief that a tiger in captivity could make such a spectatular leap.


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