Critically Endangered Tiger Fatally Shot After Biting Cleaner’s Arm at Florida Zoo

Police in Florida fatally shot a critically endangered tiger after it bit the arm of a man who entered an unauthorized area of the animal’s enclosure at the zoo.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office said its officers received a call to the Naples Zoo at 6:26 p.m. local time on Dec. 29 and found an eight-year-old Malayan tiger named Eko with the man’s arm in its mouth.

The Sheriff’s Office said a deputy “tried to get the tiger to release the man’s arm from its mouth” but was “forced to shoot the animal.”

Authorities identified the man as River Rosenquist, 26, and transported him to an area hospital for his serious injuries.

Eko retreated to the enclosure after being shot and was sedated by a zoo veterinarian who later determined that the tiger died.

“Our deputy did everything he could do in that situation and he ultimately made the only possible decision he could in order to save this man’s life,” Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said in a statement, describing the encounter as “tragic.”

According to authorities, Rosenquist put his hand through the tiger enclosure fence in an unauthorized area after he already breached an initial barrier, then the tiger bit and pulled his arm.

The zoo was closed during the encounter.

Authorities also noted that the third-party cleaning service which Rosenquist worked for is only responsible for cleaning restrooms and the gift shop, not the animal enclosures.

Eko’s killing prompted outrage online.

Authorities said an investigation will determine whether criminal charges will be filed against Rosenquist.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature categorized Malayan tigers as a critically endangered species.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, fewer than 200 of the mature tigers remain in the wild.

© Fourth Estate® — All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.