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Man mauled by tiger pleads not guilty

A man who jumped into a tiger den at the Bronx Zoo and was mauled by a 400-pound (181-kilogram) animal told police, "Everyone makes choices," a court complaint says.

David Villalobos, 25, was arraigned Friday in a Bronx courthouse and pleaded not guilty to trespassing charges.

On Sept. 21, Villalobos jumped from a monorail train that tours the zoo's Wild Asia exhibit. He cleared a 16-foot(5-meter)-high fence and was attacked and dragged by a Siberian tiger named Bashuta.

Villalobos suffered bites on his arms, legs, shoulders and back. He also had a broken right shoulder, right rib, right ankle and pelvis and a collapsed lung.

In the complaint, police Sgt. Peter Monopoli says that when Villalobos was asked why he jumped, he said, "Everyone makes choices and we have our reasons in life why we do things."

He told another investigator, "I was testing my natural fear, you would not understand," the complaint says. "It is a spiritual thing, I wanted to be at one with the tiger."

Villalobos was alone with the tiger for about 10 minutes before he was rescued by workers who used a fire extinguisher to chase the animal away.

The Canadian Press


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