Rare tiger shot dead after attacking cleaner who stuck arm into cage at zoo

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A rare tiger has been shot dead after attacking a cleaner who stuck his arm through the gaps in the cage, police have said.

The Collier County Sheriff's Office confirmed a young man was attacked by the Naples Zoo Malayan tiger after petting or feeding the big cat.

Both of these are not authorised by the Florida zoo, according to sheriff deputies.

The eight-year-old tiger is believed to have grabbed the man's arm and pulled it into the enclosure after the man put it through a fence barrier.

The incident is said to have taken place after hours, with the cleaner entering an unauthorised area near where the big cat was inside the enclosure.

The cleaning worker is a man aged in his 20s who works for a third-party service contracted by the zoo.

The first deputy who rushed to the scene tried to get the tiger to release the man's arm after kicking the enclosure and was forced to shoot the tiger, police say.

The young man has been flown to Lee Memorial hospital with serious injuries, which police say he is being considered a trauma alert.

Officers have said the cleaner looks after restrooms and the gift shop and does not clean enclosures where animals are held.

"I can only confirm that we are treating someone who was attacked by a tiger," said Mary Briggs, system director for strategic communications for Lee Health.

"I don’t know where the person was attacked."

NBC reports Eko the tiger retreated into the back of the enclosure after he was shot, and a drone issued by officers afterwards showed the tiger was not responding.

He came to the Naples Zoo back in December 2019.

Naples News reports the zoo has one tiger, Eko, the male Malayan who is now dead.

He came from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle in 2020 and was a solitary tiger at the zoo.

Naples zoo is nationally accredited and includes rare animals including bears, lions, giraffes, monkeys, and pythons.

Malayan tigers are critically endangered, with fewer than 200 left in the world.

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