An endangered tiger was shot and killed in its zoo enclosure after biting a cleaner who had entered an ‘unauthorized area’ next to its cage.

Deputies arrived at Naples Zoo in Florida to find the animal with the man’s arm in its mouth and said they were ‘forced to shoot’ to free him. 

The maintenance worker was airlifted to the hospital with serious injuries. 

Collier County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the victim was a man with a third-party cleaning service contracted by the zoo.

Reports suggest the Malayan tiger, named as eight-year-old Eko, had grabbed the man’s arm after he reached through a fence barrier in an attempt to pet or feed the animal.

Reports suggest the tiger, believed to be eight-year-old Eko, had grabbed the man's arm after he reached through a fence barrier in an attempt to pet or feed the animal

Reports suggest the tiger, believed to be eight-year-old Eko, had grabbed the man's arm after he reached through a fence barrier in an attempt to pet or feed the animal

Reports suggest the tiger, believed to be eight-year-old Eko, had grabbed the man’s arm after he reached through a fence barrier in an attempt to pet or feed the animal

The sheriff’s office said the first deputy on the scene tried to get the tiger to release the man after kicking the enclosure.

But when the tiger wouldn’t release the man’s arm, the officer was forced to shoot.

The tiger retreated into the back of the enclosure and was later pronounced dead.

A police spokesperson said: ‘The first deputy on scene 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.’

An endangered tiger was shot and killed in its enclosure after biting a cleaner who had entered an 'unauthorized area' next to its cage at Naples Zoo in Florida

An endangered tiger was shot and killed in its enclosure after biting a cleaner who had entered an 'unauthorized area' next to its cage at Naples Zoo in Florida

An endangered tiger was shot and killed in its enclosure after biting a cleaner who had entered an ‘unauthorized area’ next to its cage at Naples Zoo in Florida

A police spokesperson said: 'The first deputy on scene 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'

A police spokesperson said: 'The first deputy on scene 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'

A police spokesperson said: ‘The first deputy on scene 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’

They added the cleaner appeared to have ‘traversed an initial fence barrier and put his arm through the fencing of the tiger enclosure’ in a possible attempt to pet or feed the animal.

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission will investigate the incident.

A February 2020 blog by Naples Zoo says that Eko came to Florida from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.

The zoo calls Eko ‘a great ambassador for his species’ adding they hope ‘when guests see him, they fall in love’.

Malayan tigers are critically endangered, with less than 200 mature individuals in the wild according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Source: Daily Mail

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