Eight-year-old Eko, a Malayan tiger, was tragically shot by the sheriff’s deputy at Naples Zoo this week.
Tiger shot at Florida zoo
This was after a cleaner reportedly tried to feed “or pet” Eko and put his arm through the cage, an unauthorized area.
Naples Zoo confirmed the cleaner had “jumped the fence” to access the enclosure.
Officials say they were “forced” to shoot Eko. This was after attempts were made to release the arm, the zoo confirmed.
Here, Eko retreated to the back of his cage, where he was sedated and later died.
Further, the zoo claims that simply firing a tranquilizer dart “would not have been appropriate,” given the immediate risk to human life.
In a statement, Collier county sheriff Kevin Rambosk said: “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.”
Anyone trying to pet or feed animals from beyond the fence is a “dangerous activity,” the sheriff’s office later accepted.
The cleaner was working for an outside company and has since been taken to hospital with serious injuries.
Upon announcing Eko’s death, Naples Zoo wrote on Instagram: “It is a very sad day at Naples Zoo…
“He will be deeply missed and we sincerely appreciate the love and support of the community as we navigate this difficult time.”
As Malayan tigers are classified as critically endangered, Eko’s birth came as part of a vital plan to help maintain species numbers.
He was born into captivity at Woodland Park Zoo as part of the Species Survival Plan and arrived at the facility Naples just two years ago.
Following his tragic death, the cleaner may face criminal charges, other media outlets report. And, the zoo says it will conduct its own investigation.