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Naples Zoo Cleaner Is Mauled By Tiger After ‘Petting Big Cat In Unauthorized Area’ As Animal Is Shot Dead

A cleaning crew team member was mauled by a tiger in a horrifying attack after apparently petting the big cat in an unauthorized area yesterday.

Naples Zoo Cleaner Is Mauled By Tiger After ‘Petting Big Cat In Unauthorized Area’ As Animal Is Shot Dead

The tiger named Eko was shot and killed by authorities who responded at the scene in order to free the man from the animal’s jaws.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office said the incident took place at the Naples Zoo in Florida after it had closed.

The worker was contracted by the zoo to clean restrooms and the gift shop but not the animal enclosures. The man had reportedly “entered an unauthorized area near a tiger that was inside its enclosure,” said the sheriff’s office.

It’s possible that the man was either petting or feeding the 8-year-old Malayan tiger which are both considered “unauthorized and dangerous”, according to police.

“Initial reports indicated that the tiger grabbed the man’s arms and pulled it into the enclosure after the man traversed an initial fine barrier and put his arm through the fencing of the tiger enclosure,” said police.

A deputy at the scene around 6:30pm and saw the man with his arm inside the tiger's mouth. The deputy tried to get the tiger to release the man but was “forced” to shoot the animal.

The worker was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital Emergency Department via helicopter.

The critically endangered tiger was killed in the shooting, said a spokesperson for the zoo. After being shot, the animal retreated back inside the enclosure and did not respond after authorities flew a drone inside.

The animal was sedated by a veterinarian, who examined it “when it [was] safe to do so,” said the sheriff’s office.

The Tiger, Eko, came to the Naples Zoo from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle in December 2019 and was introduced in February 2020.

“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,” according to the zoo’s website.

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