An East London man high on mushrooms had to be rushed to Frere Hospital after he got two of his fingers bitten off by the local zoo’s jaguar.
Zaheed Abubaker, 43, who has the eyes of a bush baby, was out at a party with some friends in the residential area of Braelyn when they decided to ingest magic mushrooms.
Abubaker did not know how he landed up at the Queen’s Park Zoo at midnight, but remember agreeing with fellow partygoers that it was a “top idea” at the time.
“All I can remember was swimming in a pool of chocolate, talking to Jimi Hendrix, and agreeing to everything my buddies suggested. Next thing I knew, I was staring straight into the eyes of a big cat.”
That big cat was Elena Oswaldo Nazario Guerrero de Maria, or simply known to her handlers as Elena the Jaguar.
Abubaker reached his hand through the cage and started stroking Elena’s head while apparently engaging in meaningful conversation.
“I remember its beautiful, smooth coat between my fingers. She purred at my touch. We had a really good chat about the meaning of life and how pointless most of it is. She was really smart and she made me laugh a lot. I had never connected to anyone before the way I did with Elena.”
But according to Abubaker, he made the terrible mistake of calling her a tiger, which offended Elena and made her snap at him, taking off his thumb and forefinger.
“I told her she was a real sweet tiger and that she reminded me of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. She got angry and tried to bite my hand off but I pulled it away quick enough so that she only took off two fingers.”
According to Abubaker, Helen did not like to be confused with being a “lowly scum tiger”.
“We had just met. She didn’t have to snap at me. How must I know what the difference between a tiger and a jaguar is?” said Abubaker as tears welled up in his bush baby eyes.
Abubaker’s friend, Kavi Naidoo, had a different take on the events.
“By then I was sobering up and I saw Zaheed petting the jaguar. I thought that since he is good with animals he had the situation under control. But then he went and yanked the cat’s whiskers. There was no way she would let that one fly. For a large cat living behind bars most of her life, she was not going to take shit from any man.”
Naidoo ran to help and was luckily clear-minded enough to call the ambulance.