New Delhi: A new video of a 200-kg white tiger mauling and killing a youth after he fell into the animal's moat in the Delhi zoo, surfaced on Wednesday, sending jitters among viewers.
The nerve-wracking incident, witnessed by scores and captured live on many cameras, took place between 12.30 pm and 1 pm on Tuesday, creating a sensation through the city.
In the new video, the victim, who felled into the tiger's enclosure, is seen making a desperate plea for mercy before the big cat.
The new footage shows how the stone-pelting act of onlookers and of a guard agitated the tiger standing just a few inches away from the victim.
Provoked after being stoned, the tiger, named Vijay, pounced on the youth with his paw, held his neck and dragged him inside his enclosure. The tiger then dropped the limp body at the far end of the enclosure.
Photos and video of the tiger - one of the zoo's star attractions - dragging the youth have gone viral.
According to eyewitnesses and zoo officials, the young man, identified as Maksood, 20, a resident of Anand Parbat in Delhi, had "crossed the stand-off barrier" of the white tiger's enclosure and then fell or jumped into the moat which separated the enclosure from the visitors' gallery.
The majestic six-foot, seven-year-old tiger saw the man in the concrete moat, that was covered with dry leaves, and bounded up to him.
Footage showed the tiger glowering face-to-face at the man, as it initially appeared to be surprised on seeing the sudden human intrusion into its habitat.
"As soon as the youth 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.
"Everyone was pelting stones and making noises to divert the tiger's attention," 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."
Some eyewitnesses said it was not clear whether the man was drunk or he was clicking photos of the tiger when he accidentally fell from the cemented fencing. Delhi Police official said postmortem report will reveal whether the man was drunk and fell accidentally or jumped knowingly.
The victim's father Mehfooz later told police that his son had long "history of mental illness."
"He had a long history of mental illness but was fine now and was working in a factory. He used to take cannabis," Mehfooz said, adding that Maksood was his youngest son.
A statement by Amitabh Agnihotri, the zoo director, said: "An unfortunate incident occurred in the National Zoological Park around 1 pm when a male visitor named Maksood, son of Mehfooz, resident of Gali no 11, Anand Parvat, aged 20 years crossed the stand off barrier of the white tiger's enclosure....and jumped into the enclosure.”
"Praveen, guard posted at the enclosure, sounded the alarm and collected his supervisor and other staff of the zoo by sending wireless SOS message. Praveen along with other staff of the zoo tried to divert the attention of the tiger from the visitor but to no avail. The tiger mauled the visitor who died on the spot."
National Zoological Park curator RA Khan told a news agency that the tiger was later locked up. "The tiger will be kept under observation and medically examined," Khan said.
The space where the white tiger stays comprises of a moat, a natural space for the animal to roam around and a concrete enclosure. There are in all ten tigers in Delhi zoo, six of them white and four Royal Bengal.
"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 zoo statement said.
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.
This was not the first such instance in Delhi Zoo. Six years ago a drunk man had fallen into the enclosure of a lion but the lioness had spared him.
(With IANS inputs)