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Man in big cats’ cage, again

Patna, Dec. 24: Five days after wildlife photographer Jayprakash Bezbarauah was mauled by two tigers at Guwahati zoo, Fatuah resident Sudhir Kumar (30) jumped into the tigers’ enclosure in the Patna zoo around 1.20pm on Sunday.

The visitor to the Sanjay Gandhi Botanical Garden could have met Bezbaruah’s fate, had the zoo staff not intervened on time.

This was Sudhir’s third plunge into the big cat’s cage. In less than a year, the man has managed to enter the lion’s cage once and the tiger’s cage twice — in the same zoo — but was rescued all three times before he could be attacked.

As it was a Sunday there were hundreds of visitors near Tejaswini’s enclosure. Tejaswini, the four-and-a-half-year-old white tigress is a popular draw in the zoo. The moment they spotted the man jumping into the cage they shouted for help.

By that time the young female was already dragging Sudhir by his neck. Within minutes five zoo staff, led by zookeeper Suresh Prasad, unleashed water canons on her, who ultimately released Sudhir.

Before being rescued, however, Sudhir was dragged for 15m in the 150-feet by 125-feet enclosure with 20-ft high wall and iron bars. The staff opened the smaller gate through which a limping Sudhir managed to come out.

Sudhir, who was bleeding after being injured by the tigress’s sharp nails, was handed over to Sachivalaya police station and was later taken to the Patna Medical College and Hospital.

The man who is out of danger has said to the police that he was “not afraid of tigers” and wanted to see them from a close range.

Zoo director Rakesh Kumar said: “We are tired of the overzealous acts by this man. He has by now jumped into the closures thrice — twice in two tigers’ cages and once in the lion’s cage — in less than one year. Every time he came in like any other visitor and it was difficult to identify him.”

Sudhir, allegedly suffering from depression, has been causing nuisance at public places for a while now. He allegedly set a police jeep of fire at Fatuah recently. On December 31, 2006, Sudhir jumped into the lion’s cage and escaped death with timely help.

On March 20, 2007, he climbed iron bars to enter the tiger cage. Though iron bars have been raised after the incident, it could not stop Sudhir from taking yet another plunge this time.

Arun Prasad, a zoo employee, said the administration has to find a way to bar Sudhir from entering the zoo. Zoo director has registered a case against Sudhir for his misadventures. Vinay Kumar, Patna psychiatrist, said: “During certain personality disorders, one has strange notions of powers and illusions of invincibility. Sudhir may be suffering from one of the ailments.”

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