A man is hospitalized in critical condition after he leaped into the Wild Asia exhibit at the Bronx Zoo Friday afternoon. NY1's Arlene Borenstein filed the following report.
Bronx Zoo officials say they've never seen anything like it.
"He was in the car and jumped over the railing of the car and then, from there, across the fence, across the overhang and into the exhibit with the cat," said Jim Breheny, the director of the Bronx Zoo.
Zoo officials say at about 3 p.m. Friday, a man who was sitting in the last car of the Wild Asia Monorail with other zoo visitors decided to jump as the train passed the tiger enclosure. An 11-year-old amur tiger named Bachuta, who has been at the zoo for three years, was inside.
"The man received various bites and puncture wounds on his arms and legs," Breheny said. "What they typically do is grab a prey animal either by the head or in the back of the neck and it's over very quickly. This cat did not do this to the individual."
The quick response of emergency responders was also key to his rescue.
"Once the tiger backed away, we instructed the man to roll under a hotwire to safety," Brenehy said. "The keepers, because of their skill working with the wild animals, were able to call the tiger in off exhibit into his holding area and secure the animal."
Zoo officials say the monorail has been around for 35 years, serving millions and though this was a first, prepared employees knew exactly what to do.
"Our protocols, our staff, everybody did an exemplary job,"
The incident surprised people who live nearby.
"I'm in shock," said one. "When you go to zoo, it's a day to have fun with your family."
Despite the chaos, zoo officials are proud of the outcome.
"This was a bad situation but it was a really good day here at the Bronx Zoo because we have the cat which is still alive and we have this guy that we pulled out of the exhibit and he's still alive," Breheny said.
The man was taken to Jacobi Medical Center in critical condition and suffered a broken arm and a broken ankle. As far as the tiger, zoo officials say he did nothing wrong and will remain in the exhibit.