A 25-year-old man was mauled by a tiger in an apparent suicide attempt at the Bronx Zoo on Friday.
At 3 p.m. David Villalobos jumped out of the last car of a monorail and fell 17 feet into the tiger enclosure in the zoo's Wild Asia exhibit, DNAinfo reported. When Villalobos landed, he was attacked by Bachuta, a 400-pound, 11-year-old male Siberian tiger, before zoo officials chased Bachuta off with a fire extinguisher, the New York Times said.
Villalobos lost a foot and suffered severe deep cuts to his back, arms, legs and shoulder. He was taken to Jacobi Medical Center, and as of Friday evening, he was in stable condition.
Zoo director Jim Breheny told the AP that Villalobos was lucky to be alive.
"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.
"Tigers are extremely capable predators: They typically grab a prey animal by the back of the neck and it's over very quickly," Breheny told NBC New York. "This cat did not do this to the individual. If the tiger really wanted to do harm to this individual, he certainly would have had the time to do that."
Breheny emphasized that Bachuta “did nothing wrong” and would not be euthanized.
Siberian tigers are an endangered species, found mostly in the Russian Far East. As of 2005, there were an estimated 260 tigers left in the world.
Update: Police told NBC New York they now believe Villalobos was not attempting to commit suicide, but wanted to be "one with the tiger." When asked by an NYPD sargent why he jumped, Villalobos replied, "Everyone has a reason for what they do in life." He is now expected to face criminal charges for trespassing.