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Police: Mauled zoo jumper wanted to be 'one with the tiger'

September 22, 2012|By Matt Pearce
  • Three Amur tiger cubs rest by a fallen tree limb at the Tiger Mountain exhibit at the Bronx Zoo in New York.
Three Amur tiger cubs rest by a fallen tree limb at the Tiger Mountain exhibit… (Julie Larsen / Associated…)

A New York man who is recovering from injuries after he jumped into a tiger’s pen in the Bronx Zoo will face trespassing charges, police said Saturday.

David M. Villalobos, 25, of Mahopac, N.Y., told police he wanted “to be one with the tiger,” the Associated Press reported.

Villalobos survived the jump and ensuing attack thanks to the tiger’s less-than-ruthless reaction and the quick work of zoo employees, zoo director Jim Breheny said earlier.

Villalobos suffered broken bones from the fall and bite wounds from the tiger but was recovering Sunday. He told police that the jump wasn’t an attempt at suicide by tiger, and that he suffered most of his injuries from the fall. After he landed, the tiger dragged him around by the foot, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne told the AP.

"No surprise he landed on all fours, considering his passion for cats," said Browne, who at this point really has to be kidding us.

One of Villalobos’ classmates told ABC News that some of his recent Facebook postings had “just seemed a little strange.”

The 400-pound Siberian tiger, named Bachuta, was expected to return to the zoo’s regular rotation in the zoo's 43-acre Wild Asia exhibit, which is visible only from the monorail.

"This is the first incident of its kind," zoo director Breheny told the Los Angeles Times, adding, "When someone is determined to do something very harmful to themselves, it is very hard to stop them."

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Twitter: @mattdpearce

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