A Florida man who was mauled by a tiger after putting his arm inside its zoo enclosure will face no charges relating to the animal’s death, police have said.
The Malayan tiger named Eko was shot dead by a deputy officer at Naples Zoo, Florida, after it grabbed 27-year-old River Rosenquist’s arm and would not let go.
A report released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found that Rosenquist, who worked for a third party company hired to clean restrooms and offices, had deliberately jumped over the fence that separated the zoo viewing pathway from the tiger’s enclosure. He may have been trying to pet or feed the tiger.
Officers arrived to find Eko pulling Rosenquist’s arm inside the enclosure. After the shot was fired, Eko was pronounced dead at the scene by veterinarians. Naples Zoo has since said that it understood the “incredibly difficult situation” the deputy had to deal with.
Rosenquist nearly had to have his arm amputated following the incident. A nurse treating him for his injuries said that he had smelled of alcohol at the time.
As Rosenquist had breached the posted structural safety barrier, the zoo was not held accountable for the attack. The cages of Eko’s facility were bounded by an eight-foot-high fence with three strands of barbed wire on the top. There had also been a sign outside the fence that said: “DANGER AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.”
In a statement from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said: “I am frustrated and even angered that there is no existing criminal law that applies in this tragic situation that resulted in the untimely death of a rare and endangered tiger.”
The statement said that Rosenquist’s acts had been “irresponsible.” Rambosk said he has met with leadership at Naples Zoo and is “committed” to developing draft legislation, which will hold those who endanger animals with “reckless acts” accountable.
The Malayan tiger is classed as critically endangered with less than 300 remaining in the world.
Eko was 8 years old and weighed approximately 250 pounds. Following his death, the zoo set up the Eko Tiger Conservation Fund, which will raise money that goes towards saving and conserving the spices.
Because of their immense physical strength, tigers are often considered one of the deadliest mammals; however they usually avoid humans. They have been known to attack in order to defend their territory or cubs.
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