updated 10/5/2009 7:17:53 PM ET 2009-10-05T23:17:53

A man who broke into the Calgary Zoo early Monday and scaled a fence around a tiger exhibit was hospitalized with serious injuries after he was attacked by a tiger.

Zoo spokesman Grahame Newton said two men, both 27, broke into the zoo at around 1 a.m. by scaling an 8-feet-high main fence topped with barbed wire.

Newton said one man climbed an outer safety fence around the tiger enclosure. A Siberian tiger, a 2-year-old male named Vitali, hooked the man with a claw and pulled the man's arm through the inner fence.

Police were investigating and said they are considering charges of breaking and entering. They haven't determined whether alcohol was involved.

"It wouldn't be something I would try," Newton said. "I don't think any reasonable person would want to get that close to a potentially dangerous carnivore."

Vitali was examined by the zoo's veterinarian before being put back on display.

Vitali was born at the zoo in July 2007 to much fanfare because there are only an estimated 450 Siberian tigers left in the wild.

In a similar incident,  a man sneaked into a grizzly-bear pen at the San Francisco Zoo on Sept. 26. He was promptly spotted and removed. The man had no contact with the bear and was uninjured.

New security measures were implemented at the San Francisco Zoo after a 2007 attack in which an escaped Siberian tiger killed a 17-year-old boy and injured two other people.

Siberian tigers are an endangered species found in the Amur Valley of northeastern Russia. They are the largest species of cat in the world. Males weigh 400 to 670 pounds and can grow to be more than 11 feet in length from their nose to the tip of their tail.

In the wild, the tigers eat mainly wild boars, deer and antelope. They ambush their target, sneaking up on it and then stopping within a few yards until ready to attack — sometimes waiting for up to two hours.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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