In a hair-raising incident which was captured live on cameras, a white tiger killed a youth after he fell into the animal’s moat in the Delhi Zoo, an official said on Tuesday.
The man pleading for life in front of the white tiger in Delhi Zoo. -IANS
The incident, which took place between 12.30pm and 1pm, created a sensation and word soon spread through the city.
Eyewitnesses and zoo officials said the young man, who was later identified as Maqsood, a resident of Anand Parbat in Delhi, was leaning against the moat which separated the tiger enclosure from the visitors' gallery. He tumbled into the dry moat and immediately was face to face with the six-foot-long tiger which itself appeared initially surprised on seeing the human intrusion.
'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, who recorded the entire incident on his mobile, told media persons.
He said what possibly provoked the tiger to attack the man was when onlookers and a guard tried to divert its attention by pelting stones at it.
'Everyone was pelting stones and making noises to divert the tiger's attention,' Bittoo added. 'It was then that the tiger pounced on the youth with his paw and dragged him inside his enclosure by his neck,' Bittoo added.
Another eyewitness Himanshu said: 'The man was cowering in fear and appeared to be pleading with folded hands to the tiger to spare him. The barricading around the tiger was hardly two to three feet in height.”
But National Zoological Park curator R.A. Khan said that the youth himself jumped into the tiger’s enclosure.
“The tiger was later locked up,” Khan said.
He added that animals living in natural habitat tend to become aggressive.
Despite repeated warnings that he shouldn’t get too close to the outdoor enclosure, the man eventually climbed over the knee-high fence, through some small hedges, then jumped down 18 feet into the protective moat, said he said.
Workers carry the body of the man who was killed by a white tiger past its cage at the zoo. -AP
The man, whose body remained in the outdoor enclosure two hours after the attack, was dead by the time help reached him, Khan said.
“The tiger was just being a tiger,” said Belinda Wright, who has spent years working to protect India’s dwindling numbers of wild tigers. “An unusual object fell into his domain. ... He’s a wild animal in captivity. It is certainly not the tiger’s fault.”
Further details about him and the tiger were not immediately available.
The zoo remained open on Tuesday afternoon, though authorities eventually roped off the tiger enclosure.
The space where the white tiger stays comprises of a moat, a natural space for the animal to roam around and a concrete enclosure.
The National Zoological Park, located in the centre of the capital and one of the oldest in the country, is spread over 176 acres is home to about 1,556 different birds and animals. Delhi Zoo sees footfalls of 5,000 to 6,000 on weekdays and 12,000 to 13,000 on weekends.
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