A Malayan tiger at a Florida zoo was shot and killed by a local deputy on Wednesday after a man who worked for a cleaning company entered an unauthorized section of the facility, at which point the tiger is said to have grabbed his arm.
Initial reports, including from regional outlet CBS outlet WINK-TV, stated the “incident” at Naples Zoo began with a man who was in an unauthorized area when he was pulled into the tiger’s enclosure. A subsequent statement from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office added additional context, with authorities noting that a “member of a third-party cleaning service” who was contracted by Naples Zoo had been seriously injured after entering the unauthorized area.
The cleaning service in question, notably, is in charge of maintaining restrooms and the gift shop area, but does not have domain over animal enclosures.
Citing preliminary info, authorities added that the man was “either petting or feeding the animal”—both of which are considered unauthorized actions—when the tiger (an eight-year-old Malayan tiger named Eko) grabbed his arm and ultimately pulled him into the enclosure. Prior to this, the man is said to have made his way over a fence barrier and intentionally put his arm through the enclosure fencing.
According to the sheriff’s office statement, the first deputy to arrive on the scene ultimately shot the tiger. As of Wednesday evening, authorities were listing the tiger’s status as “unclear.” Per WINK-TV, however, the tiger has since been confirmed to have died.
On Thursday morning, a message displayed on the Naples Zoo site informed would-be visitors that the facility would remain closed for the day due to the investigation. Zoo staff is also launching their own internal investigation, with a grief counselor being made available for staff members. “We thank our community for their understanding and for the messages and words of encouragement and support that have been flowing into us,” a zoo rep added.
Malayan tigers are classified as critically endangered by way of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species