A repeat of the Delhi zoo incident would have been in the news had it not been for the timely rescue of the man this time. 25-year-old Shudhodhan Babarao Wankhede scaled the parapet of  a White Tiger’s enclosure in the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in Pune and escaped unhurt.

 

 

A zoo official who spoke to PTI has been quoted as saying, “He went very close to the tiger and even touched the animal. However, our security guards and the animal keeper carefully opened the back gate of the enclosure and rescued the man unhurt."

 

 

Wankhede seems a bit of daredevil and a person who loves to break laws. Just before paying a visit to the White Tiger in his enclosure, the man had attempted to do the same with the Royal Bengal Tiger, but luckily was caught and scolded by a zoo official. At that time, Wankhede apologised and said he had no money to pay the fine and that he would not repeat the incident. Few minutes later, before anyone could stop him, he jumped into the other animal’s enclosure. In a matter of minutes, zoo officials were notified, the animal’s keeper and others warned the onlookers to be quiet so as to not startle the animal and they ordered Wankhede to come to the feeding gate as fast as possible.

 

 

It is being said that the Kaif, the white tiger, had just finished his lunch by then and was in no mood for more and that probably is something that worked in Wankhede’s favour. According to bystanders, Wankhede was also trying to take pictures with the tiger and did so as he placed a hand on the tiger’s head.

 

 

On his arrest, the man claimed that he was not well and said that he jumped into the enclosure because he was “possessed by a divine power”.

 

 

Wankhede was later handed over to the police at Bharti Vidyapeeth police station, which registered a case against him under relevant sections of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Police said Wankhede hails from Akola and lives in Chakan area where he is looking for some job.

 

 

The incident is an eerie reminder of what happened with the tiger Vijay in the Delhi Zoo in 2014. Here too a ‘mentally disturbed’ 22-year-old boy had jumped into the enclosure of a White Tiger. The boy's 35-feet-fall shocked him and he stood transfixed to the spot as the tiger ambled towards him. Onlookers had said the boy was praying for his life etc., but the pelting of stones and sudden commotion all around it, disturbed the animal, who took a swipe at the man killing him.

 

 

The incident had then highlighted the lack of safety in zoos around the country and also the delay in the rescue operations by the staff. The Pune Zoo officials, however, were quick on their feet and thinking and so saved the life of a man and another tiger from becoming infamous.

 

 

-with agency inputs