Tourist Gets a Citation After Scaling Zoo Fence to Touch Sleeping Tiger

Matthew Swearingen jumped an enclosure to pet a zoo lion, authorities said.

Don’t poke the tiger.

A man who was cited for trespassing after allegedly scaling a fence at the Denver Zoo and touching a sleeping tiger is being vilified for it on Facebook.

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Matthew Swearingen, of Los Angeles, bragged about petting the wild animal during a Colorado visit last month.

“You’re an idiot and a liar,” one woman wrote on his page. “Had you actually pet that tiger and it turned on you (hopefully eaten you), it would have been euthanized because of you.”

According to police and zoo officials, Swearingen did indeed hop over an enclosure, and then jumped to touch a tiger sleeping in an overhead catwalk.

The Denver police were called and issued a citation for trespassing, according to statement from the department.

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But Swearingen considered the tiger encounter one of the high points of his Denver visit, according to his Facebook post, listing “pet the tiger” among notable activities including visiting a museum and seeing live buffalo.

“They should have put you INSIDE the cage to pet the tiger!” wrote another detractor on his account.

Swearingen told that he entered the enclosure because "I asked this tiger for permission to interact and not only did we lock eyes with a nod, but the tiger moved to a location more easily accessible to me on the walkway above."

"I analyzed the situation and saw no impending danger to myself, the tiger, or anyone around," he said. 

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