When the San Francisco Zoo opened its gates Thursday morning, it was the first time the public had been allowed inside since a tiger escaped its enclosure on Christmas Day 2007, killing one young man and wounding two others. My 8-year-old daughter and I were among the first visitors.
As for the tragic events of Christmas Day, I’m not about to start speculating on where blame lies. There’s no way for me to know what really happened, and I don’t have enough knowledge or expertise to provide a useful opinion.
However, as a journalist I am fascinated by the media coverage surrounding the tiger attack and its aftermath. I was expecting that members of the media would outnumber actual zoo visitors, and my casual observation Thursday morning confirmed that prediction. A reporter approached me and my daughter before we even got within sight of the zoo entrance, and by the time we left the zoo I had talked with people from the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Post, radio station KQED, and television stations KTVU and KPIX. I saw at least half a dozen other reporters, and I lost count of how many photographers were there.
My favorite interview of the day came from Rob Roth of KTVU. When I was neighborhood editor of the San Francisco Independent newspaper, lo these many years ago, we used to joke that if you wanted to know what Rob Roth was going to report on during a given week, all you had to do was read the Neighborhood section of the Independent. One of my reporters supposedly even challenged Roth to an arm-wrestling match on the steps of San Francisco City Hall because she was so annoyed it (that’s what she told me, anyway). We didn’t expect much from the TV guys, though, so it wasn’t as much fun for us to scoop Channel 2 as it was to beat the Chronicle. When I talked with Roth on Thursday, however, he was intelligent and gracious, even when I kidded him about following behind the Independent. I’m glad I got to see him work in person.
For more photos from today’s visit to the San Francisco Zoo, click here.