NAPLES, Fla. — A Malayan tiger named Eko was shot and killed at the Naples Zoo in Florida on Wednesday after attacking a man who attempted to feed and pet him after hours, authorities said.
According to Collier County Sheriff’s Office, a man in his 20s who was a member of a third-party cleaning service at the zoo entered an unauthorized area near the tiger that was inside its enclosure.
Preliminary information indicates that the man was either petting or feeding the animal, sticking his hand through fencing when the tiger grabbed his arm and pulled it into the enclosure, the sheriff’s office said.
According to the sheriff’s Facebook post, the cleaning company is responsible for cleaning restrooms and the gift shop, but not animal enclosures.
Deputies arrived at the zoo around 6:30 p.m. A deputy tried to get the tiger to release the man’s arm by kicking the enclosure. When that didn’t work, the deputy shot the tiger.
After being shot, the 4-year-old tiger retreated to the back of the enclosure. Deputies flew a drone into the enclosure, where he was unresponsive.
A veterinarian sedated the animal and examined it “when it [was] safe to do so,” the sheriff’s office said. The tiger later died, according to a zoo spokesperson, ABC reported.
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The bitten man was seriously injured and transported to the hospital. Officials at Lee Health confirmed Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Florida, is treating a tiger mauling victim.
“I can only confirm that we are treating someone who was attacked by a tiger,” said Mary Briggs, system director for strategic communications for Lee Health. “I don’t know where the person was attacked.”
Eko was the Naples Zoo’s only tiger. He came from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle in early 2020.
Malayan tigers are critically endangered species, and there are fewer than 200 in the wild left, according to the zoo’s website.
Contributing: Michael Braun, News-Press
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort