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A tiger was shot dead after biting the arm of a cleaner who went to 'pet him'. Watch below:
According to reports, the worker breached a barrier to enter the compound, which houses the tiger’s cage.
The incident occurred on Wednesday (29 Dec) at Naples Zoo in Florida, according to ABC News.
The maintenance worker named as River Rosenquist, 26, called 911 for help and a deputy responded to the zoo at 6:30pm.
Authorities say they were 'forced' to shoot the Malaysian tiger in an attempt to get the animal to release the man's arm.
As shown in police bodycam footage, Rosenquist is seen to be shouting out in pain.
An official answering the call asked the man if he was in the cage, to which he replied: "No. I’m just outside of it. He’s got my hand."
"Okay. The tiger has your hand?" the official asks the man.
"Yes, please help me," he replies.
Officials are then seen to find the man dangling out of the cage by his bloodied arm, still trapped in the tiger's mouth.
“I’m going to die,” the man cries.
After asking if another officer had a tranquilliser, the tiger was shot and Rosenquist was airlifted to hospital.
Lee Memorial Hospital Emergency Department told ABC that they had received a patient via medical helicopter from Naples Zoo with tiger related injuries.
Rosenquist was a member of a cleaning service contracted by the zoo.
The Collier County Sheriff's Office said: "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."
Rosenquist could face criminal charges, authorities added.
"Our deputy did everything he could do in that situation and he ultimately made the only possible decision he could in order to save this man's life," Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said in a statement Thursday.
"This was a tragic encounter at our world-class zoo facility.
We value our community partnership with the Naples Zoo and their focus on conservation and education."
The eight-year-old tiger is part of a critically endangered species and the zoo says that confirmation of its death was shown via a drone which flew inside its enclosure.
Named 'Eco', the zoo issued its own tribute.
"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," the zoo says on its website.
Topics: US News