The questions the zoo won't answer - Page 2

20 questions we posed to the SF Zoo's Sam Singer

Was Tatiana housed in the same grotto prior to the remodel? Were keepers consulted in the rennovations?

14. There are at least two credible media accounts of tigers escaping from that grotto previously and one account of a near escape. These were known to keepers and in one case reported in a letter to zoo management. Was the zoo director aware of any of these accounts? Should he have been?

15. It is common practice in the business, public and nonprofit sector to consult with subordinates when conducting performance reviews of senior managers (a so-called 360 is one of the best known examples). When was the last performance review of Mr. Mollinedo conducted? Were keepers and other direct and indirect subordinates consulted as part of that review? Does the zoo have written policies in place concerning executive performance reviews? If so, please provide a copy.

16. I believe the zoo's agreement with the city makes clear that zoo documents should be made available to the city Rec and Parks Department and therefore should be available to the public under the city's sunshine law. The zoo, however, has not been forthcoming with specifics about the incident or readily provided related documentation. Why is this and how is this allowed under the contract?

17. Who was the designated person for emergency contact for the zoo at the time of the escape? When was that person accessed and by what form of communication?

18. Your firm specializes in crisis communication. The field of crisis communications is well established and has some commonly accepted principles. One of these is truthfulness--officials and spokespersons should be forthright and direct when communicating with employees, the public and the media. Another is timeliness--respond quickly to media and legal inquiries and be be proactive. Expressing empathy and putting people first are also important. Accepting responsibility goes a long way and blaming and attacking is contraindicated. As a public health official, I have been trained in crisis communication. Zoo management seems to be evasive and not forthcoming. Requests for interviews have not been responded to. How do you think the zoo performed initially in this regard and how have things changed since your firm became involved? For example, simple questions are still not being answered. I was surprised to know the zoo had been closed for a long time for a variety of reasons (including the fact that it was a crime scene) and then after they hired your firm, the Web site announces the zoo is closed in honor of the victims. This seem disingenuous to me. I find it dubious that that was really the motivating factor for the extended closure. Any response? (My own opinion is that given joint oversight, the wording of the agreement, and the fact that many dispositions will be conducted, I see no advantage to not responding affirmative and immediately to requests for information and records.)

19. Did the zoo have a media relations policy in place concerning employee interactions with the media prior to this incident. If so, please provide a copy.

20. Does the zoo have a response to SF Chronicle articles that paint a picture of poor management and very bad employee morale at the zoo?