The San Francisco Zoo authorities have opted for an out-of-court settlement with the parents of a 17-year-old San Jose boy who was mauled to death by a tiger that escaped its enclosure on Christmas Day 2007. An undisclosed sum will be paid by the San Francisco Zoological Society's insurance carrier, said Michael Cardoza, who represents the parents of Carlos Sousa Jr.
One of the conditions of the settlement is that the Zoological Society erect and maintain a bench in memory of Carlos Sousa Jr. at the zoo as requested by his parents, Cardoza said.
The settlement ends a lawsuit brought by Marilza and Carlos Sousa in San Francisco Superior Court alleging zoo officials failed to build and maintain a safe enclosure for the tiger and ignored warnings that the enclosure's walls were dangerously low.
The lawsuit named both the city and the Zoological Society, the nonprofit that runs the city-owned zoo.
The Sousas had sought unspecified damages for the loss of their son, his burial and funeral expenses, punitive damages, and an injunction requiring the zoo to meet standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for the confinement of dangerous animals.
Carlos Sousa Jr. was visiting the zoo with his friend Amritpal "Paul" Dhaliwal and Dhaliwal's older brother, Kulbir, when a 243-pound Siberian tiger named Tatiana leaped from her grotto around 5 p.m. and attacked Paul Dhaliwal, according to police reports.
Some accounts say Sousa was trying to protect his friends when the tiger turned on him.
The tiger followed the Dhaliwals to another part of the zoo and attacked Kulbir before being fatally shot by police. The four officers who shot the tiger were awarded the Police Department's gold medal for valor earlier this month, said John Cotť, reporting for San Francisco Chronicle.
A lawsuit filed by the Dhaliwal brothers in federal court alleges that they were permanently scarred in the attack and falsely accused by city officials and a zoo public relations contractor of taunting the animal. The two sides are in settlement talks.