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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Enshala Killed at Lowry Park Zoo

My friends and I discussed this incident yesterday. Enshala, an old female Sumatran tiger, was shot and killed by zoo officials yesterday due to human error. A new zookeeper left her cage unlatched, she got out, and when a vet tried to shoot her with a tranquilizer, she apparently turned on him.

Employees that have always trained for such a possibility stood nearby, with shotguns, prepared to take her down. The one that actually shot and killed her was Lowry Park Zoo president Lex Salisbury.

I remember when Enshala was a cub 15 years ago. There were several cubs that had been born here. She was our tiger, and perhaps that's what makes this more painful for many of us in the Tampa Bay area.

Yesterday, Michelle said "You should blog about this! It wasn't fair to the tiger!" I was surprised, because (as Michelle will tell you) she's not an animal person.

My friend Brian was equally outraged. He pointed out that Enshala died very painfully. A shotgun blast is scattershot: Instead of one bullet, there are many which fan out and pepper the subject.

Brian also pointed out that if we choose to put these animals in captivity, it's up to us to ensure that their confines are adequate. Apparently there was a danger of Enshala breaching a low 7-foot wall which would have put her out amongst the public.

Sadly, this could have been prevented. The new zookeeper claims that he wasn't properly trained, and officials at our nearby Busch Gardens agree with him in today's article. So do experienced ex-employees from Lowry Park Zoo.

The only blessing, if there is any to be found, is that no humans were hurt and Enshala was old. A Sumatran tiger's lifespan only goes to 17 years. But it was not her time to go. Due to human error, we have lost our tiger.

16 comments:

Ed Abbey said...

Just for reference, you can buy slugs for shotguns which has just one mass of lead. Mainly they are used for deer hunting up here.

I guess if there was nothing between me and a tiger that had just turned on someone else, I would have pulled the trigger too. It's one of the realities one has to face in keeping wild animals in captivity. I always think of zoos as sad places to visit.

FruitfulSpirit said...

This was a beautiful Tiger that I remember so well. Having made almost monthly visits to the zoo when I still lived in Tampa. It is a shame but I guess not having been in the moment I can't really second quess what they did or had to do. But it is a shame that they did not train the person better and human error was to blame for killing an animal doing what came natural to it.

Some Random Girl said...

I think it's bullshit. They should have pushed the person who left the gate unlatched within shotgun reach. stupid ass. I just recently sent an email to the local paper complaining about a bear that was killed because it was roaming around a store in the next town over. Hello? People, have some common sense. I was livid. I saw this on the news. The Zoo employees surprise me that they would opt to kill the Tiger instead of try to really catch her. What's up with that? They are super rare and let's just kill it. I will never go to that zoo if I visit Florida.

michelle said...

I am not exactly an animal lover this is true. It is mostly due to my allergies and asthma though. I love Busch Gardens and Lowry Park Zoo. I do think that the safety of the people visiting needed to be protested first. I just think that if there is an animal that would have to be shot if it got out there should have been the right kind of cage, fencing, or other reinforcements so that the situation did not happen. The only safe guard being one lock of the cage is not sufficient.

KristieD said...

i think what you said about this being preventable is what bothers me the most. the new zookeeper should be ashamed at not doing his job properly and the rest of the staff should be ashamed at not being positive he knew what he was doing. and also, why is there only ONE lock for an animal that can be so dangerous? why only a 7 foot wall? if we are going to keep these animals in captivity, then we need to be sure we have everything right.

Edge said...

A similar incident happened at the Dallas Zoo not too long ago. In this case it was a gorilla that got loose. Cages were locked. I guess it figured out how to get out. It got out and bit someone. They cleared the zoo and the DPD came in and didn't tranquilize the animal, in exhuberance they shot it.

In the tiger case I would think they would have more than one latch. I would think a magnetic lock and a double door type entrance. Someone isn't thinking when they design the security.

~Jef

Jenn said...

I hate these kinds of stories... very sad.

LZ Blogger said...

I think your sum up in the last paragraph says it all! ~ jb///

Badoozie said...

essentially, all "accidents" could be prevented.

Miss Cellania said...

That IS sad. Rest in peace, Enshala.

Senor Caiman said...

Saur,

A Zoologist is someone who wasn't smart enough to get into Med. School so we're not dealing with sharpest knives in the drawer.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Saur,

I admire how you put this very tragic incident into perspective.
Hope there is a proper investigation into this terrible loss.

R2K said...

The zoo is always depressing for the large animals. Do they really deserve such a lame life?

Homo Escapeons said...

Without the mandatory anthropomorphic slant overtaking this story I would hope that the person responsible for the mistake was fired instantly. There is no room for error when you are dealing with a large predatory cat.

On one hand this cat won the lottery. Enshala led a sedentary artificial life but avoided the feast or famine lifestyle of it's natural environment. It did not have to contend with the dangers of the wild.

Will there even be any Tigers left in the Wild in our lifetime...
probably not. The Asian market for their 'parts' almost guarantees their demise.

If Enshala had managed to kill the person responsible for giving it the opportunity to act like a Tiger this would be a different story. Still I wonder..how many Tigers is one Human worth and vice versa?

Meow said...

That is so sad. I hadn't heard about this. Poor tiger, it wasn't his fault ... and he had to suffer a painful death, through some idiot who couldn't do up a latch.
Take care, Meow

Anonymous said...

Yes, my wife and I feel so bad about this. I feel like like I lost a friend. We go every year to the zoo and enjoy it so much. I alway pay attention to vist Enshala (and later came Eric). I am so glad that I got to go twice this year (I am a Disabled Vet). Just after our first visit this summer Herman was killed by his 'cousin'. And afer the last vist Enshala was killed by Lex. I know how he must have felt. He loves those animals!! I know this for a fact. I just wish it could have not ended that way for Enshala. She was born here and moved away for a short time (I cried then). I was so glad when she was returned to the zoo. I never thought this would ever happen.