NEW YORK (AP) — A visitor to the Bronx Zoo leaped from an elevated monorail train yesterday, plummeted over a fence into an exhibit and was mauled by a tiger, police and zoo officials said.
The man was alone with the 400-pound beast for about 10 minutes before being rescued, zoo officials said. He suffered bites and punctures on his arms, legs, shoulders and back and broke an arm and a leg.
The attack 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 25-year-old man apparently jumped out of his train car, with a leap powerful enough to clear the perimeter fence.
The man was attacked by an 11-year-old male tiger that has been at the zoo for three years. The zoo’s staff used a fire extinguisher to chase the tiger off, and the man was instructed to roll under an electrified wire to get to safety, zoo director Jim Breheny said. Zookeepers then called the tiger into a holding area.
The man was conscious and talking after the mauling, Breheny said.
“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,” he said.
Police said the man was hospitalized in critical condition.
The Bronx Zoo, one of the nation’s largest, 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 did nothing wrong and will not be euthanized, zoo officials said. It was back in a holding area where it usually sleeps at night.