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Tiger shot, killed after biting man's arm at Florida zoo

Authorities say a deputy was forced to shoot the tiger that had seriously injured a man who entered an unauthorized area near the animal's enclosure.
Credit: Handout
The Malayan tiger, Eko, now deceased. The male tiger was 8-years-old and arrived at the Naples Zoo in December 2019.

NAPLES, Fla. — One person was rushed to the hospital and a tiger was killed Wednesday evening after a tiger attack at the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, law enforcement says.

According to the Collier County Sheriff's Office, it happened around 6:26 p.m. after the zoo was closed for the day. Law enforcement says a worker with a third-party cleaning company entered an unauthorized area near the tiger enclosure.

The cleaning company is responsible for cleaning the bathrooms and gift shops, not the animal enclosures, the sheriff's office says. However, an investigation revealed the man was either feeding or petting an 8-year-old Malayan tiger named Eko through the fence of the enclosure, according to a statement from the zoo to WINK News.

That's when law enforcement says the tiger lunged at the man, grabbed his arm and pulled him against the fence. 

A deputy says when they arrived, they kicked the enclosure to get the tiger to release the man's arm from its mouth but when that didn't work, the sheriff's office says the deputy was forced to shoot the animal.

The man was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries, the sheriff's office said.

WINK News reports the tiger died around 11 p.m. Before that, the sheriff's office says a drone was flown inside the enclosure to check on the tiger but it was not responding. A veterinarian then sedated the animal and examined it when it was safe to do so.

The zoo will remain closed on Thursday. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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