San Francisco News

Interviews give insight into SF Zoo tiger attack

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The San Francisco Examiner obtained the audio tapes of the police interview with Kulbir and Paul Dhaliwal. The interview took place just a few hours after the Christmas Day attack at the SaN Francisco Zoo in 2007.

The Dhaliwal brothers have never spoken publicly about what happened. There has been much speculation over whether they taunted the tiger and in the interview police ask them several times whether they did anything to provoke the animal.

Police Interviewer: "Had you done anything to the tiger to tease it or harass it or scare the tiger?"

Kulbir Dhaliwal: "No."

Police Interviewer: "Can you think of any reason the tiger would want to attack you or your brother or your friend Carlos?"

Kulbir Dhaliwal: "No."

Several times in the interview then 23-year-old Kulbir Dhaliwal and his 19-year-old brother Paul deny doing anything to provoke the tiger. They say the tiger appeared out of nowhere, first pouncing on Paul and then attacking 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., who was mauled to death.

Paul eventually got frustrated with the line of questioning from police.

Paul Dhaliwal: "We were hella yelling at them when they were attacking us to back the f*** up off of us. Do you know how scared I was, I was like wrestling a tiger, have you ever had that happen to you?

Police Interviewer: "No, no I can't say I have."

Paul Dhaliwal: "That was like the scariest moment in my life."

The attorney for the Sousa family says these tapes prove the group did nothing wrong.

"Those tapes were taken very near the time this happened, when they hadn't lawyered up as some people might think and spoke the truth about what happened," Michael Cardoza said.

But a spokesperson for the zoo remains unconvinced.

"The new tapes don't shed any light on this case," Sam Singer said. "People lie to the police all the time and this is I think another example of it. There were incidents of taunting of tiger that left one man dead."

In the interview the brothers are critical of how difficult it was to get help and how long it took police and medical workers to arrive.

"I had to run to the ambulance with my head like this, I ran to the ambulance knocking on their window like, 'Help me out, please you guys,' f***ing took forever," Paul Dhaliwal said.

Paul Dhaliwal says before the ambulance arrived he did not think he was going to make it.

"I felt like I was going to die, I couldn't even like, every breath that I was taking it was like my last breath," he said.

In the interview Paul Dhaliwal expresses disbelief that the tiger was able to escape and later, officials found the enclosure did not meet national standards.

The zoo settled lawsuits with both families, agreeing to pay the Dhaliwal brothers a total of $900,000. The amount paid to the family of Carlos Sousa has not been disclosed.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
animal, animals in peril, san francisco zoo, san francisco news, amy hollyfield
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