A maintenance worker was hospitalized with serious injuries after he illegally entered an unauthorized area at the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens in Florida,Wednesday, after it had closed to the public ,and was attacked by a tiger. The man, who is in his 20s, was possibly petting or feeding a male Malayan tiger, “both of which are unauthorized and dangerous activities,” when the attack occurred, the sheriff’s office said. A deputy found the man with his arm in the tiger’s mouth and was forced to kill the animal. The man with serious injuries was transported to a hospital via medical helicopter. The tiger previously lived at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
The man worked for a third-party cleaning service hired to clean restrooms but not animal enclosures. His name was not released. The Malayan tiger, which is a critically endangered species, named Eko, was 8-year-old. There are only about 200 of the such tigers left in the wild. The Naples Zoo was closed on Thursday because of the incident. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission is also investigating the incident. The Malayan Tiger is one of the smallest tiger species found throughout the southern and central parts of the Malay Peninsula and southern parts of Thailand. It is the national symbol of Malaysia. The Cincinnati Zoo was the first zoo in North America to begin a captive breeding program for Malayan tigers.