A Florida man who was badly injured by a zoo tiger after putting his arm into an enclosure will not be charged, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.
The December incident at the Naples Zoo ended with the Malayan tiger named Eko being fatally shot by a deputy.
The sheriff’s office placed the blame for the animal’s death squarely on the injured man, who worked for a company hired to clean restrooms, a gift shop and offices.
Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said Friday he was disappointed no charges could be filed.
“I am frustrated and even angered that there is no existing criminal law that applies in this tragic situation that resulted in the untimely death of a rare and endangered tiger,” he said in a statement.
The 26-year-old man was attacked by the tiger on Dec. 29 when he jumped a barrier and put his hand or arm through fencing and into the tiger’s enclosure, investigators concluded. A deputy who responded shot the tiger after the animal would not let go.
Body camera video released by authorities shows the tiger holding on to the man’s mangled and bloody arm as he begs for help and says he’s going to die.
The man could not immediately be reached for comment Friday night.
His arm had been due to be amputated but doctors were able to save it, according to an investigative report and his family.
The injured worker and his family in statement through their lawyer to the Naples Daily News Friday expressed “their most heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in saving his life, from the police officers and first responders, to the doctors, nurses, and medical personnel.”
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.