Bodycam video: Deputy shoots tiger as it was mauling man's arm at Florida zoo

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Friday, December 31, 2021
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Chilling new body camera video has been released from authorities who responded to a tiger attacking a man at a Florida zoo.

NAPLES, Florida (KABC) -- Chilling new body camera video has been released from authorities who responded to a tiger attacking a man at a Florida zoo.

The Collier County Sheriff's Office said River Rosenquist, 26, was seriously injured Wednesday evening when he entered an unauthorized area near the tiger's enclosure at Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. Rosenquist survived, but the Malayan tiger was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy.

The man works for a third-party cleaning service contracted to clean restrooms and the gift shop, the sheriff's office said.

Body camera video captures the frantic moments when a deputy approaches Rosenquist, who is heard screaming in anguish as the tiger bites his arm.

RELATED: Tiger shot, killed after attacking worker who entered enclosure at Florida zoo

"Please help me!" the man cries out repeatedly - his shoulder on the ground and his leg in the air.

"I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, shoot, shoot shoot!" Rosenquist yells.

The deputy then shoots the tiger, freeing Rosenquist.

"The deputy initially tried to get the tiger to release the arm but he was left with no option but to shoot the animal in order to save Rosenquist's life," the sheriff's office said.

According to the sheriff's office, the tiger retreated back into its enclosure after being shot. Deputies flew a drone inside and found the tiger was not responsive. A veterinarian later sedated the tiger and had planned to examine the animal, the report said.

"Preliminary information indicates that the man was either petting or feeding the animal, both of which are unauthorized and dangerous activities," the sheriff's office's statement Wednesday said.

Investigators said they believe the tiger, an 8-year-old named Eko, grabbed the man's arm after he breached a barrier fence and put his arm through the fence surrounding the enclosure.

The man was taken to a hospital in nearby Fort Myers, officials said.

"Our deputy did everything he could do in that situation and he ultimately made the only possible decision he could in order to save this man's life," said Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. "This was a tragic encounter at our world-class zoo facility. We value our community partnership with the Naples Zoo and their focus on conservation and education."

The investigation will determine whether criminal charges will be filed against Rosenquist, the sheriff's office said.

The zoo was closed Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.