A man working for a cleaning service at Florida’s Naples Zoo was seriously injured on Wednesday when a tiger bit his hand after he walked into a restricted area and reached the animal’s enclosure, officials said.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office said the first sheriff’s deputy to arrive at the zoo kicked the tiger’s enclosure and tried to get the animal to free the man’s arm from its mouth, but the Malayan tiger was “forced to shoot”.
The zoo said that an 8-year-old tiger named Eko, which it had acquired in December 2019, had died.
The sheriff’s office said the man, who is in his 20s, was taken to hospital by Collier County Emergency Medical Services.
A spokesman for Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Florida, confirmed Wednesday that he was treating a patient who had been bitten by a tiger, but said he could not release any further information.
The sheriff’s office said a man working for a cleaning service hired by the zoo had entered an “unauthorized area” near the tiger enclosure after the zoo was closed for the day. The sheriff’s office said the cleaning company is responsible for cleaning the restrooms and gift shop, not the animal enclosures.
“Preliminary information indicates the man was either tending or feeding the animal, both unauthorized and dangerous activities,” the sheriff’s office said.
Citing “preliminary reports”, the office said the tiger grabbed the man’s hand and dragged him into the enclosure after the man crossed a fenced barrier and made his way through the fence around the enclosure. put his hand.
The office said representatives were called to the zoo at 6:26 pm. The zoo declined to comment other than to share a statement from the sheriff’s office.
In February 2020, the Naples Zoo announced that it had acquired Acko from Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. The zoo said in the announcement that it has funded efforts to save wild tigers for more than two decades.
Malay tigers are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. According to the World Wildlife Fund, fewer than 200 animals remain in the wild, down from 3,000 in the 1950s.
The fund attributed the decline to habitat loss due to development, agricultural expansion and hunting.
Welcoming Ecko, the Naples Zoo in its announcement called the tiger “a great ambassador for its species” and said that when visitors see him, “we hope they will fall in love and learn what they do with their cousins”. How can we play our part to save the brothers. Junglee.”
The Naples Zoo, which attracts about 370,000 visitors annually, hosts a variety of animals, including an African lion, a Florida panther, black bear, a buff-cheeked gibbon, and clouded leopard.
Tiger attacks in zoos are rare but not unprecedented.
In 2016, a woman in Beijing was killed by a tiger after jumping out of a car at an animal park to try to save her daughter from a tiger attack, government officials there said.
In 2007, a man was killed and two others were seriously injured after a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo escaped from its cage shortly after the zoo closed. Police said the tiger was later shot dead by the officers.
Zoo officials said that a year ago, the same tiger had bitten a guard at the San Francisco Zoo, which was seen by at least 50 visitors.
Zoo officials said the tiger had reached through the iron bars of its enclosure and caught the zookeeper with both front paws shortly after a public meal, with keepers usually through a small slot on the fortified horse. Distribute meat meals.