Photo Credit: Matt Knoth

Documents obtained by the Associated Press show that a female Siberian tiger, which was killed by police after fatally mauling a man at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day 2007, likely was provoked into leaping out of its enclosure.

The tiger named Tatiana killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and injured his friends, brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal.

Laurie Gage, a tiger expert who investigated the scene for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, wrote in her initial report that “with my knowledge of tiger behavior, I cannot imagine a tiger trying to jump out of its enclosure unless it was provoked.”

That statement appeared in the draft of her initial report, but was taken out of the final version because it was “irrelevant from an Animal Welfare Act enforcement standpoint,” said David Sacks, a spokesman for APHIS.

The Dhaliwal brothers denied provoking the tiger, though Sousa’s father told police that Paul Dhaliwal “had admitted to being drunk and yelling and waving at the animal.” Both Sousa’s parents and the brothers have settled lawsuits in the case.