A serious encounter involved a Malayan tiger biting the hand of River Rosenquist, 26, at the Naples Zoo in Naples, Florida on December 29, 2021. The tiger was shot and killed by a police officer to save Mr. River.
River was a member of a third party cleaning service at the zoo.
River was allegedly in an unauthorized area of the zoo at the tiger enclosure after the zoo closed. River was passed an initial barrier, and was close enough to the fence where the tiger was able to bite and grab his hand.
The tiger continued to pull River into the enclosure. A deputy responded to the scene. The deputy initially tried to get the tiger to release River but the tiger refused.
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The police officer was left with no option but to shoot the tiger dead in order to save River’s life.
After being shot, the tiger retreated to the rear of the enclosure into the darkness. A police 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 died.
The investigation will determine whether criminal charges will be filed against River.
There are only 200 Malayan tigers in the wild.
Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk released a statement saying:
“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. 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.”