Naples Zoo president, CEO says zoo not responsible for tiger attack


NAPLES, Fla. (WFLA/NBC) – The Naples Zoo is focusing on getting back to normal operations after a sheriff’s deputy shot a Malayan tiger that grabbed the arm of a man who was either feeding or petting the animal near its enclosure on Wednesday.

The zoo and the tiger’s enclosure, the latter empty, were open on Friday.

The zoo said River Rosenquist, 26, worked for HMI Commercial Cleaners, a third party company that cleans after hours.

Rosenquist was supposed to be working when he jumped over safety barriers to reach into the Eko the tiger’s enclosure.

The zoo has suspended its contract with the company and says it did everything in its power to prevent something like the attack from happening, but added they can’t 100 percent stop human error.

Jack Mulvena, president and CEO of the zoo, held a press conference to provide an update on Friday.

He said the zoo has reviewed the incident and does not believe its policies and protocols were responsible.

“We have very specific requirements from [the] Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission, which is the state regulatory body. Did [an] all-day inspection yesterday,” said Mulvena. “We have not gotten that written report, but they’ve indicated that there was no culpability. We did what we needed to do in and had in place what needed to be in place, but we’re constantly reviewing and upgrading.”

Mulvena said he believes shooting the tiger to get him to let go of the man was the right call.

“”You know I met with our weapons team, our teams, and to a person, our teams said if they were in those circumstances, given the circumstances, they would’ve done the same thing,” he said.

A necropsy will be performed on Monday.

Zoo officials think the bullet that killed Eko is still lodged in his neck.

The zoo said the state is looking to press charges against Rosenquist, but the zoo itself has not yet filed charges of its own.

NBC2 reached out to HMI Commercial Cleaners on Friday and and did not receive a response.

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