According to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, a cleaner at the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens was critically bitten on Wednesday evening, Dec. 29, after entering an unapproved area near the tiger’s cage. Eko, an 8-year-old Malaysian tiger, was shot to get it to release the man.
A 26-year-old man, River Rosenquist, leaped over a public barrier fence to get into an unauthorized place close to the jungle cat.
Footage showed the tiger’s mouth around the cleaner’s arm between his hand and elbow.
In a nearly 9-minute phone call with a sheriff’s office dispatcher, the man yelled, “Please, please help me, please.” As the man’s shouts are heard, dispatchers can be heard mistaking him for a woman and referring to him as “mam.”
The cleaner was shown on camera pushing himself against the barricade, one leg raised and the other resting on the ground.
A Florida sheriff’s deputy came to help and took out the tiger that had grabbed the cleaner’s arm, seeing him begging for help on his body camera.
According to the sheriff’s office and the zoo, River worked for a third-party cleaning firm contracted to clean the facilities and the gift shop.
The cleaner was taken to the hospital, but his condition was unclear.
Naples Zoo statement said: “After the deputy initially tried to get the tiger to release the arm, he was left with no option but to shoot the animal to save the young man’s life. The tiger was confirmed dead.”
Police officers who were there at the time said he believes the man was trying to feed or pet the tiger while standing outside of the enclosure’s perimeter wire.
After being shot, the tiger lets go of the man’s arm, retreats, and dies soon after from the gunshot wounds.
The Malayan tiger is a small species in the southern and central Malay Peninsula and Thailand and is seen as Malaysia’s national icon.