Man Who Jumped into Bronx Zoo Tiger Den Pleads Not Guilty

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013  |  Updated 1:58 PM EDT
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Bronx Zoo Tiger Mauling

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Bronx Zoo Tiger Mauling

A man was mauled by a 400-pound Siberian tiger after leaping into the Bronx Zoo Tiger Den Friday.
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A man who jumped into a tiger den at the Bronx Zoo last year and was mauled by a 400-pound Siberian tiger pleaded not guilty to trespassing Tuesday.

David Villalobos, of Mahopac, appeared in court but did not speak. His lawyer said he and prosecutors need more time to consider a possible plea agreement.

On Sept. 21, Villalobos jumped from a monorail train that tours the zoo's Wild Asia exhibit. He cleared a 16-foot-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 court 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.

Zoo director Jim Breheny said at the time: "The tiger did nothing wrong. ... somebody was deliberately trying to endanger themselves."

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