Body-cam footage captured the horrifying moment and endangered tiger was shot dead after grabbing a zoo worker’s arm as the man despaired: “I’m going to die."
River Rosenquist, 26, a cleaner responsible for the toilets and gift shop, was reportedly in an unauthorised area during the attack.
He was grabbed by Eko the tiger whilst allegedly either petting or feeding the beast in Florida’s Naples Zoo.
The creature pulled his arm through the wire fence and refused to let go amid his frantic screams for help.
Cops were forced to shoot the endangered animal as they tried to save River’s life, reports The Sun.
After being hit by the bullet, the eight-year-old Malayan tiger – which is critically at risk of extinction – retreated to the back of his enclosure before sadly dying.
The zoo worker sounded very relieved after finally being released from the tiger’s firm grip.
River was then raced to hospital in a helicopter and is now reported to be in a "fair condition."
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In a statement, Naples Zoo said it will set up a fund for endangered animals in the late tiger’s name.
"This evening after the Naples Zoo had closed for the day a member of a third-party cleaning service contracted by the zoo suffered serious injuries when he entered an unauthorized area near a tiger that was inside its enclosure," it said.
"Preliminary information indicates that the man was either petting or feeding the animal, both of which are unauthorized and dangerous activities.
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"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.”
Eko, who came to the zoo from Seattle in December 2019, was described as a “great ambassador” to his species.
Before his tragic death, the zoo’s website said: “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.”
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