Body camera footage of the police shooting of Eko, a Malayan tiger who bit a contractor at Naples Zoo in Florida, was released Thursday.
The video, released by the Collier County Sheriff's Office, shows the tiger biting the contractor's arm and seemingly trying to pull him through the enclosure Wednesday night. A deputy shot the tiger to free the man, according to the sheriff.
ENDANGERED TIGER SHOT AND KILLED AFTER BITING CLEANER AT FLORIDA ZOO
“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. “This was a tragic encounter at our world-class zoo facility.”
River Rosenquist, 26, was working for a third-party cleaning service when he put his hand through the fence, whereupon the tiger grabbed it, according to the sheriff's office, which said he was in an unauthorized area of the zoo after it closed Wednesday night.
"The tiger, Eko, retreated to the rear of the enclosure after being struck by the single shot fired by the deputy. A CCSO drone was flown into the enclosure to determine the tiger’s injuries, but video from the drone showed that the tiger was unresponsive. A zoo veterinarian tranquilized the tiger and entered the enclosure to assess the animal when it was safe to do so. The veterinarian determined that the tiger had expired from its injury," the sheriff’s office said in its Facebook post.
Rosenquist was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The body camera footage showed extensive bleeding and damage to his arm.
The video was released as the sheriff’s office said it is working with state and federal prosecutors to investigate the encounter.
"The investigation will determine whether criminal charges will be filed against Rosenquist," the post said.
Eko was a Malayan tiger, which is a critically endangered species. One recent study said there are fewer than 200 Malayan tigers left in Malaysia. Tigers are generally considered an endangered species, with an estimated 3,900 tigers left in the world, according to World Wildlife Fund.
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The zoo celebrated Eko on its Facebook page the day before the incident.