A man jumped inside the enclosure of a white tiger at the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in Katraj on Saturday. The man, identified as 24-year-old Shuddhodhan Baburao Wankhede, touched the animal and took pictures on his cell phone. However, the tiger didn’t attack Wankhede. As the alarmed public around the enclosure started shouting for help, the zoo staff rushed to the spot and rescued him. The zoo authorities handed him over to police, who arrested him under Section 51 (1) b of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Wankhede hails from Akola district and lives in Kharabwadi at Chakan.
Rajkumar Jadhav, director of the zoological park popularly known as Katraj Zoo, said, “We have two tiger enclosures, one with a Royal Bengal Tiger and one with a white tiger. Wankhede visited the park in the afternoon. Around 2.30 pm, he tried to enter the enclosure of the Royal Bengal Tiger, but the guards at the spot stopped him. However, he then jumped inside the enclosure of the white tiger… he even touched the animal. Our animal keepers rushed to the spot and rescued him. The tiger did not harm him”. But he added, “It could have been a life-threatening situation had our staff not reached the enclosure in time and rescued him. We questioned him about the incident, but he appears to be mentally ill. We have lodged a complaint against him at the Bharati Vidyapeeth police station.”
Committing such an act is a crime under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, said Jadhav.
In September 2014, a man had entered the enclosure of a tiger in Delhi zoo, and had been attacked and killed by the animal. In the wake of Delhi incident, the guard rails around tiger enclosures were changed as an additional preventive measure, said Jadhav.