The Years Have Not Been Kind to the San Francisco Zoo - NBC Bay Area

The Years Have Not Been Kind to the San Francisco Zoo

Zoo struggles to recover from bad press and a horrible economy



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    The family of the man who was killed by a tiger at the San Francisco has settled.

    Just when the San Francisco Zoo thought it couldn't get worse than having a tiger escape from its grotto and maul a boy to death on Christmas Day, the recession hit.

    Now the home of 250 species of animals is living like Tiny Tim, according to one city official who manages the City's relationship with the zoo.

    "They are living hand to mouth," Jim Lazarus, the president of the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department, told the Wall Street Journal, who explores how the combination of the recession and negative press has taken a bite out of the zoo's donor and visitors.

    The zoo's executive director says things are not that bad, yet. But things aren't that good either.

    Thibault Camus/AFP/Getty Images

    Nationwide zoo visitor ship is up despite the economy, according to the journal. And locally the Oakland Zoo says it is doing fine.

    But in San Francisco the number of paid visitors to the zoo has dropped by 11 percent, the zoo has been forced to lay off employees and scale back on its animal breeding programs.

    The zoo also paid the notorious Dhaliwal brothers $900,000 to bury their mauling story and millions more to upgrade facilities to prevent future animal escapes and another nightmare public relations scenario.

    This week's rain storm also forced the zoo to shut down for a third day. At least its gone more than two years without a tiger escaping from its pen.