Zoo Keeper Recovering After Mauling by Leopard
May. 30, 1990
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A zoo keeper who screamed ''help me 3/8 help me 3/8'' after a 70-pound Persian leopard bit his neck was up and about Wednesday, a day after the attack, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Alan Feinberg, 41, was in fair condition at San Francisco General Hospital, where doctors stitched up his wounds, said the spokeswoman, Gloria Rodriquez.
It was the second attack by an animal at the zoo this year.
Zoo officials were investigating why the female leopard, named Fatima, attacked Feinberg, a zoo keeper for 18 years. Zoo director David Anderson said the 14-year-old leopard may have attacked as the keeper reached into the cage for a bone.
Feinberg was standing in the keeper's area of the cage when the attack occurred. He had apparently opened the gate that separates the keeper's area from the exhibit area, Anderson said, making it possible for the animal to attack. The gate to the exhibit area is supposed to remain closed.
''Keepers are never supposed to be in there,'' he said. ''Maybe he thought the animals weren't in there.''
The mauling took place as a group of schoolchildren watched.
''The leopard had him by the neck and wouldn't let go until the other keeper came and poked him,'' said Berry Accius, 15, of San Rafael.
''I thought the leopard was going to kill him,'' said Othon Franco, also 15 and from San Rafael. ''He was screaming, 'Help me 3/8 Help me 3/8 Get him off 3/8 Get him off 3/8'''
Senior zoo keeper Tony Colonese, alerted by a visitor, ran to the cage and poked the leopard with a shovel until the animal released Feinberg. Other keepers pulled the injured man from the cage.
A spokesman for the zoo said it was investigating the attack. Veterinarians examining Fatima found only superficial wounds, probably caused by the shovel.
Contacted at the hospital, Feinberg refused to comment.
In February, a keeper's back was fractured when he was knocked into a moat by a 7,000-pound elephant.