Zoo Jumper Hoped to Be 'One With the Tiger'

David Villalobos was not attempting suicide: police

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 22, 2012 2:36 PM CDT

(Newser) – The former real estate agent who leaped into a tiger's den at the Bronx Zoo yesterday planned to be "one with the tiger," not take his own life, police say. David Villalobos, 25, told the officers who saved him that he even petted 11-year-old Bachuta—a 400-pound male Amur tiger—after the cat tried hauling Villalobos away, the New York Daily News reports. "Everyone in life makes choices," he reportedly told police.

This conflicts with an earlier account on DNAinfo.com that had sources saying Villalobos "wanted to die." As for his leg, he apparently broke it (and an ankle) when he landed on all fours jumping from the zoo monorail. "No one should be surprised he landed on all fours considering his passion for cats," said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. Villalobos, still recuperating in a hospital, will probably be charged with trespassing.

The scene where a man was mauled by a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York.   (AP Photo/WABC-TV)
Three Amur tiger cubs rest by a fallen tree limb at the Tiger Mountain exhibit at the Bronx Zoo in New York.   (AP Photo/WCS, Julie Larsen Maher, File)
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