Last September, we sat at our desks, horrified but intrigued, to hear that a 25-year-old man had jumped off a monorail in the Bronx Zoo into the tiger cage. I mean, I might joke about stuffing baby pandas into my purse, but I’m not really that crazy.
Alas, David Villalobos who plead not guilty to trespassing in court earlier today, really was that crazy.
On September 21, Villalobos of Mahopac, New York, climbed out of the zoo’s Wild Asia train and jumped 17 feet down into the tiger pen. Fortunately for him, the zoo’s three tiger cubs were off someplace sleeping. But the daddy tiger, an 11-year-old male named Bachuta, was not pleased about the invader and attacked Villalobos, puncturing his lung and mauling his back and foot. Villalobos was eventually rescued after zoo personnel scared Bachuta off with a CO2 fire extinguisher.
Initial reports said that Villalobos told investigators he wanted “to be one with the tiger” and that “everyone has a reason for what they do in life.” Oh, but the hippie dippie woo-woo-ness of it all gets even more woo-woo: today a NYC police officer testified that when he asked Villalobos why he jumped into the tiger pen, Villalobos replied, “I was testing my natural fear. You would not understand, it is a spiritual thing. I wanted to be at one with the tiger.”