Man accused of trying to enter tiger cage barred from zoo

February 22, 2022 GMT
Visitors to the Franklin Park Zoo walk past the signs advising safe distancing near an entrance to the zoo, May 28, 2020, in Boston. A Worcester man has been arrested, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 for trying to enter a tiger enclosure after breaking into Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo. When questioned by Massachusetts State Police, the man only said that he was very interested in tigers. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, file)
Visitors to the Franklin Park Zoo walk past the signs advising safe distancing near an entrance to the zoo, May 28, 2020, in Boston. A Worcester man has been arrested, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 for trying to enter a tiger enclosure after breaking into Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo. When questioned by Massachusetts State Police, the man only said that he was very interested in tigers. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, file)
Visitors to the Franklin Park Zoo walk past the signs advising safe distancing near an entrance to the zoo, May 28, 2020, in Boston. A Worcester man has been arrested, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 for trying to enter a tiger enclosure after breaking into Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo. When questioned by Massachusetts State Police, the man only said that he was very interested in tigers. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, file)
Visitors to the Franklin Park Zoo walk past the signs advising safe distancing near an entrance to the zoo, May 28, 2020, in Boston. A Worcester man has been arrested, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 for trying to enter a tiger enclosure after breaking into Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo. When questioned by Massachusetts State Police, the man only said that he was very interested in tigers. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, file)
Visitors to the Franklin Park Zoo walk past the signs advising safe distancing near an entrance to the zoo, May 28, 2020, in Boston. A Worcester man has been arrested, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 for trying to enter a tiger enclosure after breaking into Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo. When questioned by Massachusetts State Police, the man only said that he was very interested in tigers. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, file)

BOSTON (AP) — A man who authorities say tried to enter the tiger enclosure at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo over the holiday weekend was released on personal recognizance at his arraignment Tuesday.

Matthew Abraham, 24, of Worcester, appeared in court to face charges of misdemeanor trespassing and breaking and entering. Not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf and he was ordered to stay away from the zoo.

Zoo New England, which operates the zoo, in a statement Tuesday, said Abraham “was seen in an outdoor non-public area behind the tiger exhibit” Monday morning.

When he was spotted by staff, he climbed over a gate and left the area. Zoo Security was called and they searched the area until they located him. State police responded and removed him from the property.

State police said Abraham climbed over a gate into the zoo at around 9 a.m., scaled several fences and ignored warning signs.

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Abraham’s attorney told the judge that he intended to seek a private mental health evaluation for his client.

Abraham, a college student, in interviews with multiple TV stations called the entire episode a misunderstanding. He said the zoo’s gates were open, he didn’t realize he was in a restricted area, and there was always a fence between him and the animal.

He said he is fascinated with tigers and just wanted to look it in the eye.