An eight-year-old Malayan tiger in a Naples, Florida zoo was shot to death after grabbing the arm of a cleaner and dragging it into the tiger’s enclosure Wednesday evening, the zoo says.
The man, who is in his twenties, was airlifted to a hospital and was in serious condition, reports CBS Fort Meyers, Florida affiliate WINK-TV.
The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens says it was closed for the day when the man, who works for a third-party cleaning service, “entered an unauthorized area near a tiger that was inside its enclosure. The cleaning company is responsible for cleaning restrooms and the gift shop, not the animal enclosures.”
According to the zoo, the man was either petting or feeding the tiger, named Eko, “both of which are unauthorized and dangerous activities.”
The zoo said early reports were that Eko grabbed the man’s arm “and pulled it into the enclosure” after the man “traversed an initial fence barrier and put his arm through the fencing” of the enclosure.
Deputies were called 6:26 p.m. The first one “kicked the enclosure and tried to get the tiger to release the man’s arm from its mouth but the deputy was forced to shoot the animal,” the zoo said.
It added that Eko came to the Naples Zoo from one in Seattle in December 2019.
The zoo says Malayan tigers are critically endangered, with only about 200 left in the wild, WINK reports.