The circumstances in which a youth fell into the enclosure of a white tiger at the Delhi zoo may be extenuating enough for the authorities to assert they are not to be blamed for the horrific death of the man.
The person, reportedly mentally unstable, may even have jumped into the tiger’s lair after crossing a three-foot fence and a rampart-like wall overlooking the moat that protects visitors from an 18-foot drop. The tragedy lies not in how the person got into such a situation but in what the zoo failed to do.
The callousness with which the zoo keepers responded, saying the tranquilliser guns are kept in the zoo hospital and could not be brought to the spot in time, reveals a culpability that betrays a total disregard for the safety of visitors.
Even the wild tiger was quizzical enough to keep looking the intruder in the eye for a good 10 minutes before the well-intentioned actions of onlookers in trying to frighten the predator may have pushed it into reverting to animal instinct, striking out and dragging its prey away.
Besides sending an SMS, the guards seems to have done precious little towards trying to save the young man’s life in all the time the tiger surveyed him. It is an indication of how much we value human life that rescue attempts were so amateurish.
It should be normal practice in zoo drills to train game keepers and guards to handle animals and tackle emergencies. We can assume the fault lay with the deceased in putting himself at risk. It was the response that was pathetically inhuman....