San Francisco Zoo is at fault for last December’s gruesome tiger attack on a keeper

by bil | June 22nd, 2007

Woman suffered severe injuries and has undergone several surgeries

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that according to a probe by the California workplace safety agency the San Francisco Zoo is at fault for last December’s gruesome tiger attack on a keeper.

“It was obvious that any of the cats could reach through or under the bars and that a potential hazard zone extended approximately 18 inches from the cage face,” concluded the report by California’s Division of Occupation Safety and Health.

Lori Komejan was mauled by a 350-pound Siberian tiger, on the afternoon of Dec. 22, as dozens of horrified visitors watched. The incident occurred inside the Lion House after a routine public feeding of the big cats.

The investigation said zoo officials were aware that hazardous conditions existed at the Lion House, closed since Komejan was injured. Cal-OSHA ordered changes — which already have been made — in the setup of the cages and wants to impose an $18,000 penalty, which the zoo can appeal.

Investigators found that the zoo was also remiss because employees were not trained in procedures that would ensure safety and compliance, such as a buddy system, or the use of specialized equipment — for example, extension tools, noise devices or repellent sprays.

Investigators could not speak with Komejan, who spent weeks in San Francisco General Hospital and underwent several surgeries. The report said her injuries were initially too severe to permit an interview. Later, the 46-year-old Peninsula resident, an accomplished artist, declined to talk because she had filed a legal claim.