NAPLES, Florida, USA (AP) – A police officer shot a Malaysian tiger that grabbed the arm of a man who was feeding or stroking the animal at a zoo in southwest Florida, authorities said.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office said the man, in his 20s, was seriously injured Wednesday afternoon when he entered a restricted area near the tiger enclosure at the Naples Zoo in Caribbean Gardens. The man works for an outside cleaning company hired to clean the restrooms and the gift shop, police said.
News outlets reported that the eight-year-old tiger named Eko subsequently passed away. The zoo posted on its website that it will not open Thursday.
“Preliminary information indicates that the man was stroking or feeding the animal, both unauthorized and dangerous activities,” the police department report said.
Investigators said they believe the tiger grabbed the man’s arm after he crossed the fence and put his arm through the fence surrounding the compound.
The first agent to arrive on the scene kicked the fence in an attempt to get the tiger to loosen the man’s arm.
“But the agent was forced to shoot the animal,” the report added.
The man was taken to a hospital in nearby Fort Myers, authorities said. His identity was not released and his condition was unknown Thursday.
According to the police department, the tiger backed into its enclosure after being shot. The agents flew a drone inside it and saw that the tiger was unconscious. A vet sedated the animal later and planned to check it out, according to the report.
On Tuesday, the zoo’s Facebook page featured a photo of Eko.