Delhi zoo authorities say there was nothing they could do to save the man who fell into a white tiger’s enclosure on Tuesday as it was only “being a tiger”. Witnesses on the other hand feel differently.
The tiger grabbed the man by the neck as horrified visitors to the zoo looked on. “As soon as the youth slipped and fell into the moat, the tiger approached him and silently watched him for nearly 15 minutes,” Bittoo, an eyewitness, told mediapersons.
“Everyone was pelting stones and making noises to divert his attention,” Bittoo added. He said that only after that the tiger pounced on the youth with his paw and dragged him inside his enclosure by his neck.
“He suffered for the next 10-15 minutes, but nobody helped him,” Himanshu, an eyewitness, told CNN-IBN. Zoo manager Riaz Khan told HT, “Zoo staff asked the youth not to jump at least twice. He ignored the warnings. There is a standard operating procedure, but it takes time to tranquilise a big cat. And we didn’t have time.”
It is still unclear if the man fell or jumped into the enclosure but Khan said, “Nobody can fall or slip. One has to jump with clear intentions of committing suicide, he did not fall in. Outside the enclosure, there is a railing, followed by thick shrubs followed by yet another wall.”
“We do have tranquilising guns but they are at the zoo hospital. By the time we could have gotten those, he was killed,” said zoo director Amitabh Agnihotri. If we increase the height of the fencing, how will people be able to look at the animal?” asked a zoo official.
“All the enclosures of the National Zoological Park are absolutely safe. No visitor can reach the moat wall of the enclosure without the stand-off barrier. The visitor crossed the stand-off barrier and ultimately jumped into the enclosure, which led to his death,” a Delhi Zoo statement said.
Terming the incident “unfortunate”, the statement said immediately after the visitor, 20-year-old Maksood, a resident of Anand Parbat area, fell into the enclosure, a guard sounded an alarm.
“Praveen, the guard posted at the enclosure, sounded an alarm and collected his supervisor and other staff of the zoo by sending wireless SOS message,” the zoo said.
“The staff tried to divert the tiger’s attention but to no avail.”
“The tiger mauled the visitor who died on the spot. An ambulance and police were called immediately,” the statement added.