December 25th this year will mark nine years since the infamous 2007 tiger mauling incident at the San Francisco Zoo that took the life of 17-year-old Carlos Eduardo Sousa Jr. That attack, involving a four-year-old Siberian tiger named Tatiana, made national news and prompted the zoo to close and retrofit its tiger exhibit with more secure safety shields, even though the zoo had maintained that the original enclosure, surrounded by a moat, was itself very secure.
Calling attention to the zoo's newer Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, the zoo posted the above video of JT the tiger taking a dip and a drink in his enclosure. As the zoo explains, their male and female Amur tigers, being mostly solitary creatures, are kept in separate enclosures. There are only approximately 500 Amur tigers in the world after being brought to the brink of extinction in the last century.
Tatiana was shot and killed by police following the discovery of Sousa's body and after she fully escaped her enclosure to chase brothers Kulbir and Amritpal "Paul" Dhaliwal, who admitted to standing atop a fence and taunting the tiger. It would be four years later, in 2011, that allegations about the three young men's roles in the incident were confirmed in a government report, but this was after the zoo had settled lawsuits with both the Dhaliwals and Sousa's family.
The Dhaliwals would continue to make headlines, however, as ne'er-do-wells incapable of staying out of trouble in the subsequent years. It was contended and proven in a blood alcohol test that Paul Dhaliwal was quite drunk on Grey Goose vodka at the time of the tiger attack, and he would later be nabbed for shoplifting and arrested on multiple charges, ultimately dying under unexplained circumstances at the age of 24 in 2012. Kulbir Dhaliwal remains alive but was himself arrested for cocaine possession, and then in 2009 for misdemeanor drunk driving.
If you go to the zoo this Christmas season, you'll find the tigers, both the Siberian and Sumatran subspecies, behind high glass fences.