Necropsy on Eko, tiger killed at Naples Zoo, shows big cat died quickly from blood loss

Michael Braun
Naples Daily News

Eko, the rare 8-year-old tiger Malayan tiger at the Naples Zoo killed Dec. 29, died quickly from significant internal bleeding, a necropsy performed Monday showed.

The tiger was shot by a Collier County sheriff’s deputy late Dec. 29 so it would release its grip on River Rosenquist's arm.

Originally, zoo officials said necropsy information would not be provided to the media.

However, shortly after noon Tuesday the zoo released the information.

"Naples Zoo staff veterinarian, Dr. Kelsie Stovall, performed a necropsy on the Malayan tiger, Eko, on Monday," a note from the zoo said, "A wound from a 9 mm bullet was traced from the left shoulder through the thoracic wall and into the great vessels at the base of the heart. Multiple vessels were severely lacerated, leading to significant internal bleeding within the thorax and pericardium."

Previous coverage:

Eko, Malaysian Tiger

The note said that internal bleeding was identified as the cause of Eko's death. The bullet was recovered from the tiger's thoracic cavity.

 “The severities of the lacerations indicate that he expired quickly,” Stovall said.

Zoo officials also asked for continued respect for facility staff as they continue to work through this tragedy.

A person reads a note indicating that the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is closed, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, after a tiger was shot by a Collier County sheriff deputy, and later died, to free  a member of a third-party cleaning service who entered an unauthorized area near the tiger enclosure Wednesday.

The tiger, Eko, was a male Malayan tiger.

The shooting came after 26-year-old Rosenquist, from Naples, had scaled a 4.5-foot privacy fence designed to keep the public from the tiger’s enclosure. Rosenquist was attempting to feed or pet the big cat, officials said.

He works for a cleaning company, HMI Commercial Cleaners, which the zoo used to clean restrooms and the gift shop. The zoo has suspended HMI, which has not responded to requests for comment.

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Rosenquist was taken to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers after he made a 911 call to authorities around 6:30 p.m. The incident happened after the zoo had closed.

After being shot, Eko released his grip on Rosenquist and moved into a darkened area of his enclosure, images from the deputy’s body camera footage show.

The sheriff’s office released the grisly footage that shows Rosenquist crying for help, his hand in the tiger's mouth, and how emergency workers wrapped his bloodied arm in a tourniquet.

The 911 call made by Rosenquist for help also was released to the media.

The zoo reopened to the public Friday after being closed the day before, and brought in a grief counselor for the zoo’s 92 employees. It remains open during regularly scheduled hours.

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Connect with breaking news reporter Michael Braun: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook)@MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) or mbraun@news-press.com.