Naples Zoo gets new Malayan tiger

Published: May 18, 2022 4:54 PM EDT
Updated: May 19, 2022 5:59 AM EDT

There’s a new Malayan tiger at the Naples Zoo. It comes after their previous Malayan tiger, Eko was shot and killed when a man there cleaning stuck his hand through the cage.

This new tiger is named One right now, but that’s changing, and we will all have to wait until November 17 to find out One’s new name.

That’s when the zoo gala is being held. There, an auction will be held for the chance to re-name the tiger.

Zoo visitors and staff alike are just glad to have a tiger back.

Jennifer Halm hasn’t lived in Naples that long, but she’s visited the Naples Zoo half a dozen times already. She loves it so much that she brought her daughter from out of town.

When Eko the tiger was killed, it hit Halm hard.

“Naples is a tight community, you know, and I think it touched a lot of people,” said Halm. “It broke my heart. He didn’t want to have to shoot that poor tiger.”

The zoo now has a new Malayan tiger, a six-year-old named “One”. He arrived a week ago from the Virginia Zoo through the species survival plan program.

“I’m glad that they have another one in here so the kids can see him at my daughter can see him,” said Halm.

It’s a chance to help the community, and zoo staff, heal.

“We are excited to have a tiger back, but it does have some feelings for sure. But I will say one, he’s been here for about a week, and he’s stealing the hearts of the staff very quickly, and I’m sure he will with the community,” said Leeann Rottman, director of animal programs at the Naples Zoo.

Stealing hearts and hopefully educating the public.

“We feel very important that tigers have a story to tell and so we want to tell that story through one and teaching people about conservation. There are less than 200 Malayan tigers in the wild,” said Rottman.

One fewer with Eko gone, and while there’s a new big cat in town, the staff will never forget Eko.

“No, you don’t. I mean, it was a tough situation, but we just want to keep the positive energy going,” said Rottman.

The zoo staff is still working through the complex emotions of happiness and continued grief for Eko.

Eko’s legacy lives on as the face of the zoo’s tiger conservation fund.

The new tiger is a chance for the Naples Zoo and the community to move on and continue to support Malayan tigers.