Man hospitalized after being bitten by a tiger at Naples Zoo; tiger dies after being shot

Published: December 29, 2021 7:35 PM EST
Updated: December 30, 2021 4:53 PM EST

A man, who was a third-party contractor, was seriously injured by a tiger after going into an unauthorized area at the Naples Zoo Wednesday. The tiger was shot and killed by law enforcement.

Lee Health told WINK that a person was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital after being bitten by a tiger and pulled into its enclosure. According to a statement from Naples Zoo, the man was cleaning in an unauthorized area when that tiger attacked him.

Collier County Sheriff’s deputies have begun speaking with a few of the zoo’s employees. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is at the scene as well.

Officials think the man, believed to be in his 20s, was either petting or feeding the tiger when it grabbed his arm and dragged him into its enclosure.

Collier County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene just before 6:30 p.m. The first deputy attempted to get the tiger to release the man’s arm but was forced to shoot the animal.

That 8-year-old tiger died later that night. And the man is now being treated at Lee Memorial Hospital with serious injuries.

The Zoo remained closed on Thursday.

A man is transported to Lee Memorial Hospital after being attacked by a tiger at the Naples Zoo. Credit: WINK News

The Naples Zoo sent a statement to WINK New regarding the tiger attack. You read the full statement below:

This evening after the Naples Zoo had closed for the day a member of a 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. The cleaning company is responsible for cleaning restrooms and the gift shop, not the animal enclosures. Preliminary information indicates that the man was either petting or feeding the animal, both of which are unauthorized and dangerous activities. Initial reports indicate that the tiger grabbed the man’s arm and pulled it into the enclosure after the the man traversed an initial fence barrier and put his arm through the fencing of the tiger enclosure. Deputies were called to the Zoo at 6:26 p.m.  The first deputy on scene kicked the enclosure and tried to get the tiger to release the man’s arm from its mouth but the deputy was forced to shoot the animal.  The man, who is in his 20s, was seriously injured and was transported to an area hospital by Collier County EMS as a trauma alert. At this time the status of the tiger is unclear. The [8-year-old] male Malayan tiger retreated to the back of the enclosure after it was shot. We have flown a drone into the enclosure and the tiger is not responding. A veterinarian has sedated the animal and will examine it when it is safe to do so.