The man who was mauled by a Bronx Zoo tiger after he jumped into the tiger’s pen on Friday told investigators it was not a suicide attempt, but instead a quest “to be one” with the 400-pound wild beast.
Police added that David Villalobos told them that, despite his serious injuries, he was able to pet the tiger before zookeepers cam to his rescue and chased the massive feline away, reports CBS News.
New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne added that, based on both a complaint from the zoo, as well as the man’s own admissions, Villalobos will be arrested and charged with trespassing at the Bronx Zoo.
Police said during an earlier press conference that the 25-year-old man admitted to a police officer that he made a conscious decision to jump from an elevated train in the zoo into the tiger’s den, though his motives were uncertain at the time.
Brown said that when he was interviewed at the hospital on Saturday, Villalobos admitted that “his leap was definitely not a suicide attempt, but a desire to be one with the tiger.”
The San Francisco Chronicle notes that David Villalobos remains hospitalized with bites and punctures on his arms, legs, shoulders, and back. He also sustained a broken arm and a leg, because of the jump.
According to witnesses at the zoo, Villalobos’ encounter with the Siberian tiger Bashuta came after he jumped from the elevated train and cleared the 16-foot-high perimeter fence surrounding the tiger’s den. The 25-year-old man was alone with Bashuta for 10 minutes before zoo officials could rescue him.
Using a fire extinguisher, they chased Bashuta away, instructing the man to roll under an electrified wire to get to safety. Thankfully for the man seeking to “be one with the tiger,” 11-year-old Bashuta was the only one of 10 tigers at the Bronx Zoo’s Wild Asia exhibit on display at the time. Zoo officials stated that the Siberian tiger will remain in the rotation at the zoo, with zoo director Jim Breheny adding:
“When someone is determined to do something harmful to themselves, it’s very hard to stop that. The tiger did nothing wrong.”
Do you think that David Villalobos should be arrested for jumping into the tiger’s den at the Bronx Zoo?