For more than 30 years, millions have viewed tigers from the Bronx Zoo monorail. One man did the unthinkable, alone in the last car he jumped 17 feet into the tiger den last Friday.
Almost immediately David Villalobos, 25, was in the powerful jaws of a 400-pound Siberian tiger named Bachuta.
"If the tiger really wanted to do harm to this individual he certainly had the time to do it," Bronx Zoo director Jim Breheny said.
Quick thinking rescuers used powerful fire hoses to distract the tiger and pull the man to safety, but Villalabos sustained critical injuries. The tiger left bite wounds on his arms, legs, shoulders and back. The victim also ended up with a broken ankle and arm.
Why did he do it? Only he knows. His family declined to talk on camera, but a former class mate says he's been acting a bit strange. "Recently I saw some of his stuff on Face Book and it just seemed a little strange," he said.
"He made a deliberate attempt to get over the fence this wasn't an accident," Breheny said.
It's just another tragic example of mind boggling bad behavior at zoo's. For example, a tourist in Alaska jumped a barrier to get a picture with a polar bear. And a man from Singapore crossed a mote to get to the tiger enclosure.
"If someone wants to jump down 16 feet, I don't know how you'd manage for that," animal trainer Dave Salmoni said.
Another big problem is taunting animals. It turned deadly in 2007 in San Francisco where three men allegedly harassed a 350-pound tiger who lept out of her enclosure killing one of them.