(AFP) – Dec 27, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — A shoeprint found on the barrier of an enclosure at San Francisco Zoo could shed more light on the tiger attack that left one person dead and two injured, police said Thursday.
San Francisco police chief Heather Fong revealed that the footprint had been found on the railing of the exhibit from which a Siberian tiger escaped on Tuesday before embarking on a deadly rampage.
Fong said police would seek to establish if the print matched any of the shoes worn by the three victims from the Christmas Day attack.
"We have obtained photographs of that shoeprint and we have also obtained three pairs of shoes from the victims and our forensic analysis will allow us to determine if any of the shoes match the print that is on there," Fong said.
However she emphasized that detectives had found no evidence that one of the victims had been dangling their legs into the enclosure prior to the attack as had been reported earlier Thursday.
"We have no information as of this time that tells us that someone's leg was leaning over the railing, or was slung over the railing," Fong told reporters.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that police had found blood and a shoe inside the exhibit and were probing whether one of the victims may have placed a leg over the edge of a protective moat, aiding the tiger's escape.
Officials are baffled as to how the animal managed to escape from the enclosure, which is separated from the viewing area by a moat and a wall.
The Chronicle cited unnamed sources close to the investigation as saying that evidence found at the scene "included a shoe and blood in an area between the gate and the edge of the ... moat."
The report also said "pinecones and sticks that were found in the moat might have been thrown at the animal. Those items could not have landed in the grotto naturally," according to the sources.
The body of 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. was found near the exhibit. He had been killed by a slash to the throat.
The other two victims, brothers age 19 and 23 who accompanied Sousa to the zoo, were present when the tiger escaped, the report said.
"The injured victims fled, leaving a trail of blood, which police believe the tiger followed for 300 yards (meters) up a zoo pathway," the report said.
The four-year-old tiger, named Tatiana, attacked one of the brothers before police were able to distract the animal and shoot it dead.
The 300-pound (136-kilogram) tiger attacked the arm of a zookeeper during a public feeding session at the facility last year.
Meanwhile the grieving parents of the teenager killed in Tuesday's Christmas Day attack have criticized safety measures at the zoo.
"They didn't do enough for the public, because I think the zoo should be protective on both sides, protective for the people and protective for the animals," the boy's father, also called Carlos, told CNN.
Sousa's mother meanwhile told the network that Christmas would never be the same for them. "This is supposed to be the day for giving, not to take," Marilza Sousa said. "And he was taken away from me."
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