On Wednesday evening, an 8-year-old Malayan tiger named Eko was shot to death after an independent contractor hired by a third-party cleaning service company climbed over a 4.5 foot fence to enter the tiger’s enclosure long after the zoo had closed.
The man reached his hand into the tiger cage to pet the tiger, when the tiger bit him between the hand and elbow. The police were called just before 6:30 PM. When they arrived on the scene, body camera footage released on Thursday shows that a deputy asking bystanders if there were any tranquilizers available. When he is told that there were none, the deputy shot the tiger once. Eko later passed away from the gunshot wound.
The man, identified as River Rosenquist, 26, of Naples, Florida, was taken to the Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, where he remains in critical condition. Although zoo officials say that they “fully support” the sheriff’s decision to shoot the tiger to save the man’s life, a petition has started circulating online, demanding justice for Eko.
‘Justice For Eko’ Petition Gains Traction Online
Shortly after the news broke, a Change.org petition called “Justice For Eko” appeared online, demanding that Rosenquist be held criminally responsible for the death of the endangered tiger. Although it only had just over 4,900 signatures earlier this morning, it quickly surpassed its goal of 5,000 signatures.
“Fewer than 200 of the animals remain in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund,” the petition stated. “There is now 1 less beautiful creature on the planet, thanks to the irresponsible and ignorant actions of this man.”
“Eko’s death is 100% the result of this man’s actions. He worked for a 3rd party cleaning company and was not authorized to be in that area,” they continued. “Charges of criminal nature MUST be filed, and while the man has suffered medical consequences he must be held accountable for the loss.”
Many Support The Petition: ‘Prosecute The Man To The Fullest’
Many people agreed with the petition, with one Florida resident commenting, “I am so tired of seeing these kind of unnecessary deaths over and over again just because people are not only entirely ignorant!! But they are breaking the law!! Enclosures are built for a reason!!”
“Anybody stupid enough to enter an area they are not supposed to are asking for it as far as I’m concerned!!” they continue. “Let the tiger keep chewing on the idiots arm until a d— tranquilizer can be brought to sedate the tiger!! It’s the humans wrong doing, not the Tiger! Why is an ignorant criminals life more important than an animals? Especially an endangered species !! Absolute BS!!! Prosecute the man to the fullest!!!”
“It’s what needs to be done for Eko, who’s life was taken from him too soon at no fault of his own,” another added.
“The stupid action of this idiot of a human should NEVER have resulted in the death of this magnificent and endangered animal!” another commented. “Prosecute this cretin for harassing an animal, causing its death, and make him pay for all the ensuing costs, including help to pay for the breeding of a tiger!”
A New Jersey resident wrote, “Next time shoot the idiot, not the animal!”