The situation was about as bad as it could get for a zoo. On Christmas Day, Tatiana the tiger escaped from her enclosure in the San Francisco Zoo, mauled a 17 year old boy to death and severely injured two of his companions. Media coverage of the incident focused on deficiencies in construction of the cat's enclosure and the zoo's response to the accident, while the public recoiled in horror. It looked like the zoo's reputation had hit rock bottom. But when the going gets tough, the tough hire PR, and so the zoo hired Sam Singer, a $350 an hour Bay-area PR consultant who specializes in crisis control, to help spin the tiger mauling in a way that would minimize the damage to the zoo's reputation. Suddenly, new information started appearing in the media that seemingly defended the tiger: the young men who got mauled might have been drinking alcohol, might have had taunted the tiger, and might have been using marijuana. So maybe it wasn't so much the zoo's fault after all? What a difference a little PR makes.
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