SAN FRANCISCO – A former San Francisco Zoo employee claims in a lawsuit that officials ignored his complaints about the zoo's emergency response to a tiger attack on a zookeeper.
Zoo officials denied his claims and accused the man of exploiting a separate Christmas Day tiger attack, in which the same tiger killed a teenager and injured his two friends.
Lloyd Kraal, a one-time maintenance supervisor at the zoo who helped repair the zoo's big cat and polar bear grottos, filed the wrongful termination and sexual harassment suit Monday.
In it, he says he called police after the 350-pound (158-kilogram) Siberian tiger mauled zookeeper Lori Komejan in December 2006, and helped emergency personnel get into the zoo. Five days later, the suit says, Kraal "complained that the zoo's emergency response was substandard and resulted in much chaos."
Kraal's recommendations to officials that the zoo re-examine its safety procedures "were ignored and met with angry denials of any need for safety improvements," according to the suit.
A zoo spokesman said Kraal never raised any safety concerns with zoo officials.
"Unfortunately he may be using this period in time to take advantage of the zoo because of the Christmas incident by making claims ... regarding the safety of the big cat enclosure," zoo spokesman Sam Singer said.
In that attack, the tiger apparently leaped or climbed over its wall and killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and mauled brothers Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23, and Paul Dhaliwal, 19.
A lawyer for the brothers claims the zoo ignored their pleas for help for 30 minutes even though both were suffering from severe bite and claw wounds.
Singer has called the claims made by attorney Mark Geragos "unreliable" because police have not yet concluded their investigation into the attacks.
Kraal's lawsuit also claims he was pushed out of his job after he complained about sexual harassment by his supervisor and raised the safety concerns.