A zoo cleaner was seriously injured after going into an unauthorised area and being attacked by an endangered tiger which was then shot dead.
A police officer was called to Naples Zoo, in Florida, in the US, around 6.30pm and was “forced” to kill the male Malayan tiger called Eko that had the arm of the man, in his 20s, in his mouth, said authorities.
The maintenance worker, in his 20s, is thought to have been petting or feeding the animal which are “unauthorised and dangerous activities”, said Collier County Sheriff’s Office.
The man was part of a company contracted to clean toilets and the gift shop at the zoo but not the animal enclosures, it is reported by ABC News.
“Initial reports indicate that the tiger grabbed the man’s arm and pulled it into the enclosure after the man traversed an initial fence barrier and put his arm through the fencing of the tiger enclosure,” said the sheriff’s office.
The cleaner was taken by air ambulance to the Lee Memorial Hospital emergency department, it is reported.
The eight-year-old Malayan tiger Eko was killed confirmed a zoo spokesperson.
The animal was injured after being shot, retreating to the back of its enclosure and did not respond when a drone was flown inside.
It was later sedated by a vet “when it was safe to do so” said the sheriff’s office.
The tiger had come to Naples Zoo from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle in December 2019 and was a popular attraction for visitors.
“Eko is a great ambassador for his species. When guests see him, we hope they fall in love and want to learn how they can do their part to save his cousins in the wild,” the zoo stated on its website.