Bronx Zoo tiger jumper pleads guilty

October 15, 2013 9:20:21 AM PDT
David Villalobos, the man who jumped into a tiger exhibit at the Bronx Zoo last year, has changed his plea to guilty at a court appearance in Bronx Criminal Court on Tuesday.

Villalobos pleaded guilty to trespassing - the same charge to which he had pleaded not guilty last March.

He was sentenced to a conditional discharge. He had faced a maximum penalty of a year in jail. Instead, he must complete one year of mental health treatment.

Villalobos jumped from the Bronx Zoo's monorail into the Wild Asia exhibit last September and was mauled by a 400-pound Siberian tiger named Bachuta.

The 25-year-old suffered broken bones and some bites during the incident.

In the 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."

Villalobos' parents blame the drug Adderall for his behavior.