David Villalobos is either the bravest man in the world, or the most misinformed. I’m inclined to go with the latter.
“Becoming one with the tiger,” as he said was his desire when he jumped out of his train car on the monorail that travels over the Bronx River and through a forest that is part of the 265 acres that make up the Bronx Zoo, had to be a case of misinformation on his part.
The only way becoming one with a 400-pound Siberian tiger seems possible is if the beast swallows you whole. And according to a story from Yahoo News and many other press accounts, Bachuta – the tiger, almost did. I’m thinking that wasn’t made completely clear to the 25-year-old real estate agent before he made his near-fatal mistake.
The article from Yahoo states that before his now-infamous jump, Villalobos filled his Facebook page with New Age odes to Mother Earth and lovely quotes like, “Be love and fearless.” I’m not exactly sure what being love and fearless has to do with becoming snack food for a tiger, but of course, I’m really not up on the latest death wish trends either.
Though Villalobos is adamant that his 16- to 17-foot jump from the elevated train car had nothing to with a suicide attempt, but the way some people are looking at it is, if the jump doesn’t signify his intention to do bodily harm to himself, surely the face-to-face introduction to Bachuta does.
But he vows the opposite. He really just wanted to become one with the tiger.
He recounted the fact that once he had landed inside, on Bachuta’s turf, on all fours, no less, the tiger attacked him and dragged him around by his foot. Imagine that. I’m sure the poor, confused animal just figured the zoo staff that normally fed him had decided to give him a bigger treat that day, one that was wriggling and kicking to boot. More fun to play with your food, before actually consuming it.
Not Bachuta’s fault; it’s not the animal’s responsibility to screen all the humans that jump down from above and land in his den to determine whether or not they’re food for his belly. You really can’t blame the tiger.
According to Yahoo News, Villalobos has been charged with misdemeanor trespassing and is recovering from bites and punctures on his arms, legs, shoulders and back, as well as a broken right shoulder, right rib, right ankle and pelvis and a collapsed lung.
Maybe the next time he decides to become “one” with anything that outweighs him by 200 pounds or so and has very large and sharp teeth, he’ll remember this experience.
And when he rereads the account of what happened in all the papers, especially the part where he told New York Police officials that he was able to fulfill his wish and pet the tiger, he’ll remember one thing: If he actually did get to “pet the tiger,” it certainly wasn’t due to any maneuvering on his part; he owes that feat to the benevolent Bachuta, who allowed him to keep his hand long enough to realize that dream.
Angela Rogalski is a print journalism senior who lives in Abbeville. Follow her on Twitter @abbeangel.