This morning, the San Francisco Department of Emergency Services finally released tapes of the frantic 911 calls preceding the Christmas Day tiger attacks at the San Francisco Zoo.
At 5:04 p.m. on Christmas night, a zoo security guard made the first call. A minute later, a zoo official was heard playing down the report of an escaped tiger.
"I don't know if they are on drugs, or what. They're screaming about an animal that has attacked them, but there's no animal out."
At 5:10 p.m., the same official realizes that Tatiana, a 250-pound tiger, is on the loose. The official is heard telling a colleague.
"Alan, I got a tiger out. Code 1."
At 5:13 p.m., the call goes out for weapons.
"We need tranquilizer darts and we need armed backup."
Just three minutes later, Kulbir Dhaliwal — one of the victims eventually attacked by the tiger — calls 911. He complains that police are not responding, and that zoo officials won't even help get a towel for his brother Paul, who has already been mauled.
Dhaliwal's voice could be heard: "I need some towels. Get them out here soon!"
When the dispatcher asks Dhaliwal about the yelling in the background, he responds, "I'm talking to the ... the manager ... he ... he's a stupid ass — don't want to give me any towels. Give me some towels, man! What the hell is wrong with these people?"
The 911 operator explains that the paramedics are taking precautions.
Dhaliwal responds, "But what don't you understand? My brother is going to die out here!"
At 5:23 p.m., the call is cut off, and Dhaliwal is mauled by Tatiana four minutes later.
The San Francisco Zoo has reopened, and after it discovered that the tiger's habitat was 4 feet shorter than national standards, it has looked at all of its animal exhibits: the walls of seven of them are being raised.