Man in Tiger Cage Merely Wanted a Job, Authorities Say
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Students shouted ″Tiger bait 3/8 Tiger, bait 3/8″ at a man who for nearly five hours occupied the outer cage of Louisiana State University’s 500-pound Bengal tiger mascot before he surrendered.
The intruder, Moacyr Cezar, a 49-year-old native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, who has lived in Baton Rouge two years, merely wanted a job, authorities said.
He seized the keys of the cage from a student trainer Wednesday evening and then demanded in broken English and Portuguese to speak with LSU basketball coach Dale Brown, said university spokesman Gary Ballard.
Marksmen stood by with tranquilizer guns in case the tiger got loose. A police SWAT team also stood by.
At one point, some of the hundreds of students who came to watch chanted: ″Tiger bait 3/8 Tiger bait 3/8″ - the cry used at LSU sporting events when opposing teams enter.
Cezar surrendered after talking with Jose Vargas, LSU’s center who is from the Dominican Republic.
″He’s upset, man. He’s going to be all right,″ Vargas said after Cezar surrendered.
Cezar was booked on first-degree robbery, criminal mischief and criminal trespassing, said police Sgt. Greg Phares. No bond was set immediately.
Ballard said Cezar served for the past two semesters as a proctor who was given room and board in LSU’s athletic dormitory in return for his services as an unpaid supervisor.
″He wants a job. He has some sort of problem with his temporary visa. He says he wants a work permit,″ said Ballard.
Although authorities said they feared he had a pistol and heard him say he had a bomb, Ballard said no weapons or bomb were found when the standoff ended.
Cezar himself was never in danger from the tiger, a 13-year-old named Mike IV who paced restlessly behind him. And though he threatened to free the tiger, Cezar didn’t leave the barred outer cage that surrounds the main cage where the big cat actually lives.
At one point, negotiators passed a document between the cage’s bars to Cezar. Ballard said it was an application for employment.
Brown, in Florida, was told of the incident but had no immediate plans to return, Ballard said.
Brown’s wife, Vonnie, and some of LSU’s Spanish-speaking basketball players were among those who talked with Cezar.