[WARNING: POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING CONTENT]
This is a terrible situation. Florida police were forced to kill a Malayan tiger named Eko (not pictured above) Wednesday night after a custodian got injured in an unauthorized area of the zoo.
TMZ got hold of a video that depicts the horrifying incident. In the short clip, at least two cops are seen rushing through the Naples Zoo to get into a restricted area of the park after 26-year-old River Rosenquist seemingly went to pet or feed the tiger. According to authorities, the man’s hand was bitten when he attempted to make contact with the animal (who was behind a fence). Eko clamped down so hard, the custodian is heard screaming in pain in the graphic video, yelling:
“Please, help me! Oh, s**t, s**t. I’m gonna die.”
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Seeing the severity of the scene, and noticing that the animal was still pulling at the Rosenquist’s hand as if trying to drag him into the enclosure, the police quickly decide they must shoot the tiger in the head to preserve River’s life, ultimately killing Eko. According to the Collier County Sheriff’s Department, deputies tried kicking the fence before reaching for a gun, but the tiger did not let go, forcing them to take the drastic measure.
You can watch the heartbreaking tragedy unfold (below), but, as mentioned, it is a very graphic clip that may be difficult to watch for some.
For those of you who’d prefer to remember Eko in better times, see the tiger in clips from the zoo (below).
The employee was seriously injured and taken to a trauma center. His condition is unclear at this time. A spokesperson for the Naples Zoo told TMZ that the cleaner was not an official employee of the zoo but worked for a third-party company that had been hired to clean the wildlife attraction. He was only supposed to be working in restrooms and the gift shop.
Nevertheless, the cleaner placed himself and the creature in grave danger, thus, leading to the tiger’s death. As seen in the video, not only did River enter an unauthorized location, but he hopped a barricade to get as close to the tiger as possible. Sadly, there are so many similar examples of scary situations like these. Let this be a reminder never to disobey safety precautions — they’re there for a reason.
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On Thursday, the Naples Zoo released an official statement about the situation on their social media platforms. Alongside a photo of Eko, they shared:
“It is a very sad day at Naples Zoo, we have lost our Malayan tiger, Eko. He was 8 years old and he came to Naples Zoo in December of 2019. He will be deeply missed and we sincerely appreciate the love and support of the community as we navigate this difficult time.”
The zoo was closed Thursday to allow police to complete their investigation as well as give staff time to process the tragedy, but is expected to reopen Friday. The facility has also begun an “internal investigation” into the matter. Read the rest of their message to visitors (below).
We will be thinking of the injured cleaner as he recovers from his injuries, as well as the caretakers and fans of Eko who must be devastated to learn how this preventable tragedy occurred.