Mauling victim sought ‘to be one’ with tiger
NEW YORK – Before his now-infamous tangle with a Bronx Zoo tiger, David Villalobos adorned his Facebook page with New Age odes to Mother Earth and affirmations like “Be love and fearless.”
Police said Saturday that Villalobos had told detectives that it was without fear that he leaped from an elevated train into the animal’s den. His reason, they said, was that “he wanted to be one with the tiger.”
Villalobos also recounted how, after he landed on all fours, the 400-pound beast attacked him and dragged him around by his foot, said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne. Despite serious injuries, he claimed he was able to get his wish and pet the tiger – a male Siberian named Bashuta – before his rescue, Browne added.
Based on those admissions and a complaint from the zoo, police charged the hospitalized Villalobos with misdemeanor trespassing on Saturday. It was unclear if the 25-year-old real estate agent had an attorney.
Police had said earlier that Villalobos admitted to a police officer at the scene that he made a conscious decision to jump – “Everyone has a reason for what they do in life,” he was quoted as saying – but that his motives were murky and an arrest uncertain.
That changed when, during a follow-up interview Saturday, Villalobos told detectives that “his leap was definitely not a suicide attempt, but a desire to be one with the tiger,” Browne said.
Browne said Villalobos was charged because he had gone “beyond a perimeter security fence and an electrified wire designed to keep the public out and the tiger in.”
Villalobos remained hospitalized with bites and punctures on his arms, legs, shoulders and back, as well as a broken right shoulder, right rib, right ankle and pelvis and a collapsed lung. Police said there was no indication he was intoxicated.
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