NEWS AND COMMENT: You may have heard of the story of the Malayan tiger Eko, at Naples Zoo, Florida, USA who was shot at point blank range in the neck by a deputy police officer. The reason why the officer shot the Eko is because he had clamped its jaws around the arm of a man. The man had put his arm through the wire caging to try and pet or feed the tiger. The tiger’s response was to bite the arm or hand and hold on. The man could not get free (read an early report). Readers of this story had a verbal description in the news media so when I saw this photograph taken from a video, I thought it might interest people.
Although the photograph taken from the video has been partially pixelated because that part is quite gruesome, I have to presented it on a page where there are no adverts because advertisers don’t like their adverts being placed next to these sorts of photographs. I am sorry for that but I have no option. Please, therefore, click on the link below to see the picture if you wish.
Out of curiosity, my imagination was working quite hard trying to figure out what happened and how it looked at the time. We can see that the man is on the ground. His left leg appears to be in the air and his left arm appears to be through the wire fencing. He is possibly trying to push with his legs against the fencing to force the tiger to release his arm and hand. The tiger held on and only released it when he was shot.
The tiger didn’t die immediately. He retreated into a hiding place and died thereafter while being treated by a veterinarian. There’s been a big backlash from animal lovers because they feel that the tiger did not have to be shot. They could have tranquilized him but nobody turned up with a tranquilizing gun. Some want the zoo closed or the CEO sacked.
I remember it being reported that a zoo official asked the police officer who shot the tiger whether they had a tranquilizer gun and there was no response. He just pulled out his firearm and shot the tiger at a distance of about a few feet judging by the photograph. There was a tranquilliser gun at the zoo (see below). If they’d stuffed a broom handle through the fencing into the tiger’s face or body might that have distracted the tiger sufficiently to drop the hand/arm? I don’t think enough imagination was employed in trying to save the arm AND the tiger.
Some more details
The man’s name is River Rosenquist, 26. He was employed by a third-party contractor. The contractor was authorised to clean the restrooms and other areas in the administration of the zoo but not the animal enclosures. He was comprehensively in an unauthorised area. I guess that is obvious. He certainly wasn’t doing any cleaning! Rosenquist was supposed to be cleaning the zoo’s gift shop and bathrooms.
You’ve heard the saying “curiosity killed the cat”. In this instance a human’s curiosity almost killed him. Although it seems hard to believe that he could have been killed. The worst-case scenario would have been the loss of his arm.
Eko was eight years old when he was shot dead. He was shot by a Collier County Sheriff’s deputy. Jack Mulvena, the president and CEO of Naples Zoo said that he fully supports the deputy’s decision to shoot the tiger because no tranquilizer gun was available. The zoo keeps a tranquilizing gun on the premises but it was unavailable because the event happened out of business hours. Comment: perhaps there is a lesson to be learned there by Mr Mulvena. However, I doubt whether he will learn it because he seems very laid-back about what happened. That tranquilizing gun should have been available 24/7 to account for this sort of event.
Rosenquist had a previous brush with the law in 2015 when he was charged with driving with a suspended licence. It might not happen but he may be charged for his reckless behaviour. Apparently, his neighbours describe Rosenquist as a “troubled” man. They say he suffered serious injuries to his arm. A graphic body camera video indicates that his arm was ‘mangled’. It is believed that the tiger died of internal bleeding. He was shot in the neck. They are going to perform a necropsy to determine the exact cause of death.
Rosenquist lost his mother in 2012. He has a brother and has been living with his father at Rosea Court in Naples.
Jack Mulvena said that he was not considering pressing charges. Although that might not be relevant because there are other witnesses and therefore the prosecution service does not need Jack Mulvena as a witness in a potential criminal trial. Jack Mulvena said that it was just a bad decision by the man and you can’t stop the sorts of events happening at the zoo.