In the minutes before the white tiger killed 22-year-old Maqsood at the Delhi Zoo on Tuesday, zookeeper Shyam Lal tried to lure it away. And though the tiger, named Vijay, reacted to his calls, it seemed to be agitated by the shrieking crowd and the stones they threw at him, prompting it to unleash its final attack.
These details have been clearly captured in a video that has surfaced, which has been accessed by The Indian Express.
In the video, Maqsood has his hands clasped and seems to be praying, crouching under the tiger’s gaze. For about one-and-a-half minutes, the tiger doesn’t touch him. It is repeatedly distracted by the desperate cries of Shyam Lal, who reared it since its birth in 2007. The zookeeper can be heard shouting, “Vijay, aa ja”.
Meanwhile, the crowd can be heard screaming. The tiger looks up twice at the crowd. A stone then hits the tiger, and it unleashes its fatal attack on Maqsood, grabbing him and dragging him to the other side of the enclosure. Shyam Lal finally keeps quiet.
Officials said if the crowd had not behaved in that fashion, Maqsood could have been saved. “Shyam Lal reared the tiger… The two had a close bond… The tiger knew that Shyam Lal wasn’t a threat, and would have left the man alone if it had not been agitated,” said Riaz Khan, the zoo curator.
Pointing out that the tiger was born in captivity, Khan said, “It was rarely aggressive… It always listened to Shyam Lal’s calls and was in many ways particularly tame.”