Gliding over 16 hectares of wildlife at the Bronx Zoo, the aptly named Wild Asia Monorail was the scene of maniacal enthusiasm last Friday. As one passenger leapt over a five metre fence into a tiger den, only to be mauled by tiger resident Bachuta.
Motivated to “be at one with the tiger”, 25-year-old David Villalobos made the harebrained hurdle as the monorail passed over the tiger habitat. He landed near the 11-year-old 180kg Sumatran tiger, who didn’t take his passionate plunge pleasantly.
After surviving 10 minutes with the tiger, Villalobos received wounds to his arms, shoulder and back, and had an arm and leg broken. Fire department spokesman Frank Dwyer said “it looks like he had some very severe wounds on his back or his torso”.
Disputing Villalobos had set out for a ‘mauled by tiger Friday’, chief police spokesman Paul Brown said he simply had a “passion for cats”. When later questioned by police, Villalobos even claimed most of his injuries were caused by the jump.
However, zookeepers tell a different story, as they managed to scare off the tiger with a fire extinguisher before ordering the man to roll under an electric fence to safety.
Zoo director Jim Breheny said “If not for the quick response by our staff and their ability to perform well in emergency situations, the outcome would have been very different”.
This is the second incident of free-willed feline folly this year, as another man was mauled by tiger, this time to death, after he scaled a fence and crossed a moat to get inside their den at a Danish Zoo last July.
The reporters at The Fox Gazette would like to remind feline fanatics to be mindful of our cat comrades, and to stay inside the monorail at all times.