A shirtless man who was arrested after claiming to be Tarzan and trying to get into two exhibits in the Santa Ana Zoo was likely under the influence of drugs at the time, police said Wednesday.
Officers responded to the zoo — located at 1801 E. Chestnut Ave. — at around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and discovered 37-year-old John William Rodenborn covered in mud, according to Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department.
He told them he was the fictional character Tarzan.
Before authorities arrived, Rodenborn had allegedly attempted to get into the zoo’s bird exhibit prior to trying to swing into the monkey exhibit, Bertagna said.
The director of the zoo initially called 911 to report that a man was jumping into some of the exhibits.
“We have a gentleman who is — appears to be — under the influence of something and is climbing in our trees and jumping into animal exhibits,” zoo Director Kent Yamaguchi told the dispatcher during the emergency call.
He described the man as shirtless and wearing only brown pants.
When the man was first spotted, he had just “climbed through the mud out of one exhibit” and was trying to enter the aviary exhibit, Yamaguchi told the dispatcher.
“He’s shouting at people that he’s Tarzan,”Yamaguchi said in the 911 call.
Yamaguchi told KTLA that the man had walked through the bird aviary and then went over to a nearby tree, next to the monkey enclosure. He was spotted climbing several trees, Yamaguchi said.
During the 911 call, the zoo director said that Rodenborn had climbed up one particular tree and onto a 20-foot retaining wall above the monkey exhibit.
“It looks like he may be trying to jump into the water,” Yamaguchi said.
The shirtless then climbed down and hid behind some bamboo, “sort of sleeping, or resting. He’s covered with mud,” Yamaguchi told the dispatcher.
When police arrived at the scene and arrested him, Rodenborn was found to be in possession of methamphetamine, and was likely under the influence of the drug at the time, according to Bertagna.
The primates apparently never saw Rodenborn, and none of the animals were disturbed during the incident.
KTLA’s Jennifer Thang contributed to this story.