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Tragedy at the Zoo

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Keeping your family safe at the zoo.


Visitors and staff at the San Francisco zoo are recovering today after a terrifying tiger attack just after closing yesterday. According to a CNN report, San Francisco Fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said the Siberian tiger, which killed one visitor and mauled two others, had been shot and killed by police. "Apparently right around closing time—there was a pen with four tigers in it—one of the tigers got out. The tiger went into a cafe at the zoo and attacked a patron. That person ended up dying at the scene."

A statement was released by the president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums: "AZA-accredited zoos are safe. Until this incident, there had not been a visitor fatality resulting from an animal escape at an AZA-accredited zoo."

This type of tragic event is rare but the concern it raises is: how can we make sure our kids stay safe at the zoo?

Christina Simmons at the San Diego Zoo tells Mom•Logic the top three things to keep in mind:
Make sure the zoo you visit is accredited. Those zoos who are part of the AZA have to meet very strict protocols that keep visitors and animals safe (look for the AZA insignia on the zoo's entrance sign).
•Wash hands after petting animals. Of course kids (and adults) should only pet animals in "petting allowed" areas of the zoo. The most common problem parents have at the zoo is sick kids after petting animals and not washing.
•Be familiar with off-limit areas. Pay attention to signs and be aware of your children; keep them from climbing walls or fences, and reaching through barriers.

next: A Hair-Raising Experience
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Suzanne Carlson December 27, 2007, 11:13 AM

AZA accreditation is meaningless. Moms may be shocked to learn that the AZA hasn’t condemned the lethal ivory trade, nor the capture and removal of wild elephants from their homes. The AZA doesn’t oppose striking elephants with bullhooks (a rod with a sharp metal hook on the end)—in fact, its standards specifically allow this weapon of torture. Finally, the AZA thinks it’s acceptable for elephants to be chained for up to 12 hours per day.

Zoos are hardly “safe” havens for animals. Just in the past few months, a tiger and a wolf were shot to death at two different accredited zoos when they escaped from their cages. Countless other animals die prematurely from a host of captivity-related reasons.

If you are a Mom who really cares about animals, you’ll avoid zoos altogether.

kathryn sheridan June 6, 2010, 9:26 AM

A friend wrote in for me, about a home fire and I needed help with my cats. She is still getting your news letter and would like it to stop. I have already signed up with my email. Please help , Her email is This is the 3d time I’ve asked, I don’t know what else to do to get this taken care of

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