S.F. Zoo Maitenance Worker's Ghastly Tell-All Doesn't Say Much
Following the 2007 tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo, a former zoo maintenance worker, Lloyd Kraal, briefly garnered a place in the spotlight when he claimed that zoo officials ignored his previous warnings that the tigers would escape from their enclosure. He also claimed that his superior, Gogo Heinrich, had sexually harassed him. He filed a wrongful termination and sexual harassment suit against his former employers.
While the zoo allegedly acknowledged that Heinrich's actions were inappropriate, it denied his claims that he had warned them of an impending tiger escape and suggested that his lawsuit was opportunistic.Kraal's name faded from the limelight -- until now. Krall has published a book, Welcome to the Zoo, A Whistleblower's Memoir.
Forgoing subtlety, the growling visage of a tiger fills the last "O" in "zoo." The tiger is warning you. It's saying, "Stay away: as a tiger mauls a hapless victim, so does Kraal maul the English language."
Readers hoping for a hard-hitting expose should look elsewhere, as this brief, strange book sheds little light on either the 2006 mauling of a zoo worker, the famed Christmas Day 2007 tiger rampage, or Kraal's allegations.
The first 140 pages of this 180-page book read like a laundry list of the wrongs committed against the much-maligned Kraal while he undertook various jobs for the city, including Cable Car repair. Kraal's coworkers are either drunk, stupid, out of shape, addicted to drugs, or some combination thereof. In one bizarre instance, Kraal says that one of his co-workers would "brag about the abuse, both verbal and physical, he inflicted on his wife during her menstrual period if she did not stay with her mother."
As Kraal drifts from job to job, he finds the majority of co-workers to be lacking in merit, while his superior skills and intelligence, inexplicably, keep him from promotions. He appraises the foreman and manager at his first city job thusly: " The two men who interviewed me, Len the carpenter foreman and Ronald Greene, a manager, seemed like decent men, but neither one knew much about building. I was sure to surpass men like these in no time." Of a co-worker who garnered an award he writes, "Jimmy received a plaque, some money and had his picture taken. Pretty good for a guy who finished number eighty on the carpenters' test, could not speak English, and was an alcoholic." Pretty good, indeed!
Kraal wedges the odd anecdotes in-between depictions of his work woes, such as a story about a man who's life was ruined by being beaten up by a woman ( "...getting your ass kicked by a girl should be avoided at all costs, even if she was a two hundred pound lesbian.") He regales readers with tales of his brawling, claiming that he broke his hands beating a Vietnam vet and his companion into a "bloody heap" in a North Beach bar and once rendered three unruly Chicago Cubs fans unconscious.
Kraal's self-congratulatory tone only increases in the final two chapters of the book, which describe his time at the zoo. "At the San Francisco Zoo," he writes, "with the exception of myself, there was no one even remotely qualified to perform this work." He describes the zoo veterinarian as "Dr.Death", derisively calls the Operations Director "our thirty year old super star", and, oddly, decries the "fornicating Human Resources Director." His supervisor Candy Shultz is a "baby-talking" eye-batter. (The names of people in the narrative were changed to obscure their identities, but our powers of deduction tell us that Candy Shultz may be none other than the aforementioned Gogo Heinrich.)
The book ends with Kraal's assessment of the Tatiana the tiger's mindset during the attacks:
"Tatiana the tiger left her prison because she could. And for the brief time she was free -- free to do what she so enjoyed -- ripping the flesh from the hairless beings she so hated..."
Kraal surmises that the horror will not end here, musing that "The giant flightless birds will get a hold of a keeper or a child soon enough, again."
The horror, however, has ended for the reader, because this diatribe signals that the book is now over.