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Man mauled, critically injured after jumping into tiger’s den at Bronx Zoo

By Jonathan Terbush
Saturday, September 22, 2012 12:27 EDT
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A New York man suffered puncture wounds to his back, as well as a broken arm and ankle, after jumping out off the monorail at the Bronx Zoo and into the tiger’s den.

According to WNBC-TV, officials are still trying to determine exactly why 25-year-old David Villalobos made the leap, in which he cleared a perimeter fence before dropping 17 feet into the enclosure, where he was mauled by a 400-pound Siberian tiger. An NYPD spokesman told CBS that Villalobos, when asked why he leaped into the tiger den, responded, “Everybody in life makes choices.”

CBS also reported that Villalobos had posted several images of tigers and other animals to his Facebook page in recent days. One of those pictures bore the text, “We have more to fear from other people than from other animals.”

The zoo’s director, Jim Breheny, said the tiger did nothing wrong, and seemingly decided not to kill Villalobos before being shooed off by zoo personnel wielding fire extinguishers.

Villalobos was directed to roll under a hot wire for his protection while staff called the tiger back into his holding area, where he was secured.

“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,” Breheny said.

WCBS-TV reported that the monorail was shut down during the incident.

As of Saturday, Villalobos was reportedly in critical condition at a New York hospital and was expected to survive.

Watch video from the local NBC station’s coverage of the incident below:

Tiger image via Wikimedia, Creative Commons licensed

Jonathan Terbush
Jonathan Terbush
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
 
 
 
 
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