LOCAL

3 To Know: New zoo rules, more

Marco Eagle

1. One year after tiger Eko’s death, new rules make zoo enclosures off-limits

Had River Rosenquist stuck his hand into a Naples Zoo tiger enclosure today, things would have gone differently for him than they did a year ago.

When 8-year-old Malayan tiger Eko bit 26-year-old night cleaner Rosenquist’s arm and didn’t let go, a Collier County Sheriff sergeant shot the big cat point-blank so he’d release Rosenquist.

Eko quickly bled to death in the back of his cage.

Eko, Malaysian Tiger

Rosenquist, who survived his injuries without losing his hand, is a free man. Neither the sheriff’s department nor the zoo pressed charges against Rosenquist. There were none to press, Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said at the time. “Simply put, there are no laws on the books that apply to this reckless act. We know this will be very difficult for everyone to understand. It is difficult for us to comprehend,” the agency said on Facebook.

Now, that’s changed. At its meeting earlier this month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission outlined new rules on captive wildlife, which the agency oversees, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among other things.

The key language: “It is unlawful for any unauthorized person to breach, remove, damage, or dismantle the structural safety barrier of any enclosure, wildlife exhibit, or ride.”

The Naples Zoo backs the changes, says spokeswoman Courtney Jolly, though she declined to discuss them as they relate to Rosenquist’s case. “We are fully supportive of the policy changes that FWC has made, but we believe they should be the ones to speak directly about those changes,” she said in a statement. “We are most focused on protecting our staff from reliving this extremely difficult memory because they have healed and have moved on.” – Amy Bennett Williams/Staff

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2. Twitter plans to relax ban on political ads

Twitter says it will ease up on its 3-year-old ban on political advertising, the latest change by Elon Musk as he tries to pump up revenue after purchasing the social media platform last year.

The company tweeted late Tuesday that “we’re relaxing our ads policy for cause-based ads in the US.”

“We also plan to expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks,” the company said from its Twitter Safety account.

The Twitter logo is seen on a mobile phone.

Twitter banned all political advertising in 2019, reacting to growing concern about misinformation spreading on social media. At the time, then-CEO Jack Dorsey said that while internet ads are powerful and effective for commercial advertisers, “that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions.”

The latest move appears to represent a break from that policy, which had banned ads by candidates, political parties, or government officials. In reversing the ban, Twitter said that the change will align the platform’s advertising policy with those of “TV and other media outlets.”

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3. FDA sets rule for abortion pill access

The Food and Drug Administration has finalized a rule change that broadens availability of abortion pills to many more pharmacies, including large chains and mail-order companies.

The Biden administration partially implemented the change last year, announcing it would no longer enforce a long-standing requirement that women pick up the medicine in person. Tuesday’s action formally updates the drug’s labeling to allow many more retail pharmacies to dispense the pills, so long as they complete a certification process.

Containers of the medication used to end an early pregnancy sit on a table inside a Planned Parenthood clinic, Oct. 29, 2021, in Fairview Heights, Ill. A report released Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 says most U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery. The trend spiked during the pandemic as telemedicine increased and pills by mail were allowed. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The change could expand access at both brick-and-mortar stores and online pharmacies. Women can get a prescription via telehealth consultation with a health professional, and then receive the pills through the mail, where permitted by law. Still, the rule change’s impact has been blunted by numerous state laws limiting abortion broadly and the pills specifically. Legal experts foresee years of court battles over access to the pills.

More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. – Matthew Perrone/Associated Press