A cleaner was seriously injured by a leopard at Naples Zoo in Florida on Wednesday after the man put his arm around an animal enclosure, authorities said.
Eko, an eight-year-old Malaysian tiger, was shot dead by a sheriff's deputy, the zoo said.
Deputies were called to the zoo, which was then closed, around 6:30 p.m. and found the animal with a worker's arm in its mouth, the Collier County Sheriff's Office said.
"The first deputy at the scene kicked the fence and tried to get the leopard to free its arm from its mouth but the deputy was forced to shoot the animal," the sheriff's office said in a statement.
An employee, a 20-year-old man, was critically injured and taken to hospital, the sheriff's office said.
After the shooting, the tiger returned to the enclosure and was admitted to a veterinarian for further examination, the sheriff's office said. A zoo representative later said the animal was dead.
The sheriff's office said the leopard was 4 years old.
The man was working for a cleaning company that was hired to clean toilets and a gift shop and should not have been in the area, the sheriff's office said.
The sheriff's office said it appeared the man was trying to caress or feed the leopard, but noted the information was a start.
The man apparently "broke through the first fence and put his arm around the leopard's fence," before the leopard grabbed him, the sheriff's office said. The sheriff's office said it appeared the man was trying to caress or feed the leopard, but noted the information was a start.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission is also investigating the incident, the agency said.
Eko came to Naples Zoo in December 2019, said a zoo representative. It is the only Malaysian tiger in the zoo.
The leo pard pre viously liv ed in Woo dland Pa rk Z oo in Se attle, Naples Zoo said in a February 2020 post.
The Malay tiger is considered to be the most endangered and only about 200 live in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund.