Critically endangered tiger fatally shot at Florida zoo after biting man’s arm - The Guardian

Authorities in the US have shot and killed a critically endangered tiger after it bit the arm of a man who entered an unauthorized area of the tiger's enclosure in a Florida zoo.

The man, who is in his 20s and worked for an external cleaning service at the Naples zoo in Florida, suffered serious injuries after an eight-year old Malayan tiger named Eko bit him, authorities said on Wednesday.

"Preliminary information indicates that the man was either petting or feeding the animal, both of which are unauthorized and dangerous activities," the Collier county sheriff's office said in a Facebook post.

It added that the third-party cleaning service which the man worked for is only responsible for cleaning restrooms and the gift shop, not the animal enclosures.

"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," the statement said.

The attack, which happened after the zoo had closed for the day, prompted deputies to respond to the scene. The first deputy kicked the enclosure and attempted to get the tiger to release the man's arm from its mouth. The deputy was eventually "forced to shoot the animal".

The man was then taken to a hospital by Collier county emergency medical services, the sheriff's office said.

Eko's killing has prompted outrage online, with many users blaming the man for entering a restricted area. "They shot the tiger for being a tiger," said one user on Twitter.

Another user wrote: "Quite literally natural consequences for the human. Absolutely no reason to kill the tiger. Change that tragic policy."

"The tiger was just reacting on instinct – should not have been put down for this – the man was at fault," someone else tweeted.

Malayan tigers have been categorized as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. Fewer than 200 mature individuals remain in the wild, compared to the over 3,000 animals in the 1950s, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

For the past two decades, Naples zoo has funded saving wild tigers. In a statement announcing Eko's arrival to the zoo last February, the zoo called Eko "a great ambassador for his species". It added: "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."

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