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Man mauled after leaping into tiger den at Bronx Zoo

September 21, 2012|By Tina Susman

A man was in critical condition Friday after apparently leaping from a monorail into the tiger den at the Bronx Zoo, where he was then mauled, zoo officials said.

The local ABC news affiliate, WABC, quoted police as saying the man was 25 years old and appeared to be “emotionally disturbed.” He managed to clear two fences surrounding the tiger den when he jumped from the zoo’s Wild Asia Monorail at about 3 p.m.

He was being attacked when the zoo’s emergency staff responded.

“Our emergency response staff immediately went to the site and used a C02 fire extinguisher to move the tiger away from the person,” said a statement from the zoo’s director, Jim Breheny. “Once the tiger backed off, the man was instructed to roll under a hot wire to safety. The keepers were able to call the tiger into its off-exhibit holding area and safely secured the animal.”

The man was described as “conscious and talking” when he was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was in critical condition.

“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.

In 2007, a 17-year-old was killed at the San Francisco Zoo after being mauled by a Siberian tiger named Tatiana. An investigation indicated that Tatiana probably was provoked into leaping and clawing out of her enclosure by Carlos Sousa Jr. and two other zoo visitors. Sousa died before officials were able to track down the animal.

Tatiana died in a hail of bullets. Claw marks indicated the wall surrounding Tatiana’s enclosure was shorter than federal guidelines recommended and had enabled her to escape.

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tina.susman@latimes.com

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