The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Darwin Award goes to...

A man jumped out of the Bronx Zoo's monorail into the tiger exhibit Friday afternoon, where he was mauled by a 400-pound Siberian tiger before zoo employees rescued him by using fire extinguishers to distract the big cat, zoo officials said.

The 400-pound Siberian tiger named Bachuta could have killed the intruder in an instant but  fast-acting zoo workers were able to rescue the jumper who had been in the enclosure for about 10 minutes, Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny said.

"Tigers are extremely capable predators: They typically grab a prey animal by the back of the neck and it's over very quickly," Breheny said. "This cat did not do this to the individual."

Authorities identified the jumper as David Villalobos. The 25-year-old from Mahopac suffered "various bites or puncture wounds on his arms and legs and also the top of his shoulder on his back,"  Breheny said. He also suffered a broken arm and ankle, perhaps from the 17-foot drop off the monorail.

Around 3:30 p.m., Villalobos took a flying leap off the last car of the zoo's Wild Asia Monorail, a slow-moving train with open sides that takes visitors along the zoo's tree tops to peer down on the wild creatures below.

He was able to clear a perimeter fence -- an athletic feat that was a first in the history of the monorail, authorities said -- and land in the tiger enclosure.  Bachuta, an 11-year-old Siberian tiger weighing more than 400 pounds then mauled Villalobos.

The zoo's staff was able to chase Bachuta off by spraying the creature with a fire extinguisher. Once the tiger backed away, the zoo staff yelled at the man, instructing him to roll under a hot wire to safety, Breheny said.

The keepers then called the tiger into its holding area and secured him there, Breheny said.

Once the tiger was contained, EMTs rushed to the scene and treated the man, officials said. He was conscious and talking as he was taken to the hospital by ambulance, Breheny said.

"If the tiger really wanted to do harm to this individual he certainly would have had the time to do that," said Breheny.

Villalobos was taken to Jacobi Hospital in critical condition.  The tiger "did nothing wrong" Breheny said, and will not be put down.

Authorities offered no motivation as to why Villalobos took the leap into the tiger cage. His Facebook page lists "Mother Earth" as his religion and features many photos of lions, a jaguar and tigers.


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