An animal nut was mauled by a 400-pound tiger at the Bronx Zoo Friday after he leapt from the monorail ride into the animal’s den in a crazed suicide attempt.
David Villalobos, 25, of Mahopac, N.Y., jumped 17 feet from the popular Wild Asia Monorail about 3 p.m., officials said, and was mauled by Bachuta, an 11-year-old male Amur tiger.
“The tiger did nothing wrong,” Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny said at a press conference.
“Our emergency response staff immediately went to the site and used a CO2 fire extinguisher to move the tiger away from the person,” Breheny said in a statement earlier in the day.
David M. Villalobos was attacked by a tiger when he jumped into its territory at the Bronx Zoo on Friday, September 21.
“Once the tiger backed off, the man was instructed to roll under a hot wire to safety.”
His lung was punctured and leg mauled, officials said. Doctors were trying to save his leg, sources said.
Villalobos remained conscious and was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center in critical condition.
Three Amur tiger cubs pictured with their mother in the Tiger Mountain exhibit at the Bronx Zoo.
“He’s amazing and he loves everybody,” said the victim’s sister, who declined to give her name. “I really don’t know what happened.”
She said the family didn’t know he was at the zoo today.
On his Facebook page, Villalobos posted photos of tigers this week, including one Thursday of a mother tiger licking her baby.
An image of foxes with the message, “We have more to fear from other people than from other animals” was also posted Thursday. In other posts he promotes a vegetarian diet.
Another image posted Thursday bears the message, “We need to stop being victims and living out of fear. We need to stop preparing for disaster, instead to anticipate a glorious future.”
Bachuta’s cubs, were first featured in the Daily News in 2010. He mated with a female tiger, Sasha, the first day they were introduced, after Sasha had rejected previous males zoo handlers paired her with. Their offspring were the zoo’s first Amur cubs in more than a decade.
Breheny praised zoo workers for getting the tiger away from the victim before he did more harm.
“We were able to prevent a bad situation from turning into a real tragedy,” Breheny said at the press conference. “We did not have to use deadly force but we were prepared to do so.”
Bachuta will be back on exhibit tomorrow, zoo officials said.
“We’ve never had a single incident like this,” Breheny said. “You have to be determined to jump out.