L. Simmons, G. Brady and other contributors
No matter how well designed your tiger facility is for containing tigers, either through accidents or acts of God, tigers sometimes get out of their enclosures. It is important to respond immediately in a calm and professional manner in order to protect zoo staff and visiting public, and to return the tiger safely to its home. To accomplish this, it is imperative that each zoo develop and practice its tiger escape policy. Below is a sample tiger escape policy which institutions can modify for their own use.
A tiger that escapes from its proper holding area is to be responded to immediately. Tigers are housed in a variety of areas which include exhibits, cages (large and small), and holding areas. When a tiger escapes from one of these areas into a service or public area or into an animal exhibit, an emergency protocol must be in place. Tigers are wild animals and dangerous.
I. EMERGENCY PROTOCOL: When it is determined that a tiger has escaped, do the following:
A. STAY CALM. Your composure or lack of it will affect
the performance of others.
B. Attempt to confine the tiger.
C. If you cannot confine the animal, summon help as quickly as
possible, but stay in the area to monitor the animal's location
and keep unauthorized people out of the area.
D. Do not excite the animal. Keep your distance.
E. Several institutions have an alarm system. This should be activated as soon as possible in an emergency situation. Zoo personnel must respond immediately to the alarm.
F. All personnel involved in a "Tiger Escape" should use extreme caution at all times.
II. SPECIFIC RESPONSE:
The first zoo employee who has a radio and knows of a Tiger escape will broadcast, "ALL UNITS, CODE GREEN" (Code Green means animal escape) and give the last known location. This message should continue to be reported for several minutes to keep people informed where the tiger is.
A zoo staff employee should be instructed to call Police, Fire Department, or Ambulance if needed. Designate a person to meet and direct assistance where needed. Do not call "emergency groups" unless absolutely necessary.
Policy On Culling (Euthanasia) Of Surplus Animals (from L. Simmons)
Editors' note: A 1991 policy decision in reference to surplus animals from the AZA Felid Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) and IUCN/SSC CBSG is presented here. Readers may also contact AZA for a copy of its policy on euthanasia of zoo animals.
Managing wild animals in captivity to support and enhance conservation and the preservation of genetic diversity is a complex exercise requiring the long-term dedication of people and valuable resources. Most felids in captivity can be expected to demand significant and long-term resources because: 1) most species have special needs to thrive, and 2) many have relatively long natural lifespans that are enhanced even further by rapid advancements in health care. The people and institutions responsible for these animals naturally represent diverse disciplines and philosophies. It is apparent that successful practical management to achieve common conservation goals must of necessity be coordinated and reasonably coherent. Although recognizing that philosophical agreement is seldom possible on most issues, the positions of any parent organization (like the AZA, Felid TAG, individual SSPs or individual institutions) must be clear. Probably no single issue arouses more emotional and diverse responses among both the public and our own colleagues than the culling of animals deemed surplus to the conservation effort.
For this reason, the AZA Felid TAG and IUCN/SSC CBSG:
Recognize the requirement of collection managers to make decisions that consider the well-being of the total species, regional captive and wild populations as well as individuals animals in the full knowledge that management constraints may proscribe culling of some individuals.
Support the position of euthanasia for managing wild felids in captivity, but only on an individual-by-individual animal basis and only when the propagation program is simultaneously and rigorously regulated by responsible breeding and use of contraceptives.
Recommend that all involved organizations and individuals, especially zoos, zoo directors and zoo administrators, take a proactive role in developing a formal culling (euthanasia) policy as an effective and acceptable management tool. It is further recommended that active education programs be developed at the insti-tutional level for the general public and the institutional staff focusing on the utility and ultimate necessity of taking this conservation action. It also is recommended that institutions rely less upon justifying culling on the basis of often vague "medical" reasons.
Support the concept that a less anthropomorphic and more objective term than "euthanasia" be used in referring to the humane killing of surplus animals (for example, "culling").
Recommend that each individual SSP develop and disseminate a formal written policy on this issue.
Recommend that prior to any culling, every effort be made to recover genetic material (especially tissue and germ plasm) to assist in preserving genetic diversity and/or to enhance our fundamental understanding of species biology.