Monday, September 24, 2012

Mazel Tov, Bronx Zoo!

Mazel Tov Monday

As this story has been bouncing around since Friday, you might have already heard about it. If not, let me tell you a story.

On Friday afternoon, 25 year-old David Villalobos decided to jump from a moving monorail as it coasted over the top of the tiger enclosure at the Bronx Zoo, clearing a 16ft fence in the process. Alone for 10 minutes with a 400 pound male Siberian tiger named Bashuta would have been plenty of time for the animal to kill him ten times over, but instead he just got chewed on a bit and dragged around by his foot. Lucky, albeit stupid and now sporting one less foot, guy.

Zoo personnel were quick to respond, directing Villalobos to roll beneath an electrified wire once the fire extinguishers did their job to back the great cat off, and the jumper was swiftly treated and sent to the hospital. 

I've read a handful of different articles covering this story, and the general conclusion is that this guy wasn't trying to kill himself, as some first speculated, he just wanted to "be one with the tiger." (article from Chicago Sun Times, which I found to have the most information supposedly straight from the jumper's mouth.) Okay, crazy man, I get your love of animals and nature, but next time try not to endanger anyone else's life when you feel the need to commune with nature. Apparently Villalobos lists "Mother Earth" as his religion on Facebook, so maybe he felt spiritually compelled to throw himself from a moving vehicle into a tiger's space. No one David Villalobos knows this. My attitude toward any belief system is that if it brings you peace and doesn't hurt anyone, rock on. But if it involves forcing others to rescue you from the jaws of a wild animal, you might want to reconsider the ways in which you make decisions.

The happy ending in this story comes from the Bronx Zoo Director, Jim Breheny's decision to pardon Bashuta from any wrong-doing and carry on. It's refreshing when despite the stupidity of people, animals aren't punished for being animals, and for this, I applaud Mr. Breheny. I also applaud the zoo staff for acting quickly and not harming their cat to save the moron who jumped into the enclosure. I'm sure his family is thankful you saved his life, but I'm thankful Bashuta wasn't harmed because of his ridiculously short-sighted decision. 

(Image borrowed from      

And so the Wild Asia exhibit at the Bronx Zoo will carry on for people who are capable of being responsible for themselves, and David Villalobos got his supposed wish - to pet the tiger.

Mazel Tov, Bronx Zoo on handling a dangerous situation superbly, and for not punishing the poor cat who got ambushed by a lunatic.

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