A man was mauled by a 400-pound tiger after leaping from a moving monorail train and plummeting over a protective fence at the Bronx Zoo, authorities said.
The man was alone with the tiger for about 10 minutes on Friday before he was rescued by zoo officials, who used a fire extinguisher to chase it away. He suffered bites and punctures on his arms, legs, shoulders and back and broke an arm and a leg.
Zoo director Jim Breheny said the man was lucky to escape the tiger’s clutches.
“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,” Mr. Breheny said.
The tiger mauling happened at around 3 p.m. in the Wild Asia exhibit, where a train with open sides takes visitors over the Bronx River and through a forest, where they glide along the top edge of a fence past elephants, deer and a tiger enclosure.
Passengers aren’t strapped in on the ride, and the man apparently jumped out of his train car with a leap powerful enough to clear the 5-metre-high perimeter fence.
The man was mauled by an 11-year-old male Siberian tiger named Bashuta, which has been at the zoo for three years. After zoo staff chased the tiger off, the man was instructed to roll under an electrified wire to get to safety, Mr. Breheny said. Zookeepers then called the tiger into a holding area, he said.
The 25-year-old man was conscious and talking after the mauling, Mr. Breheny said. Police said he was hospitalised in critical condition.
The Bronx Zoo, one of the nation’s largest zoos, sprawls over 265 acres and contains hundreds of animals, many in habitats meant to resemble natural settings. Its exhibits include Tiger Mountain, Congo Gorilla Forest and World of Reptiles.
The tiger that mauled the man was returned to a holding area where it usually sleeps at night and will not be euthanised, zoo officials said.
“The tiger did nothing wrong in this episode,” Mr. Breheny said.
Keywords: Bronx Zoo