An Analysis: Echoes of Eko the Tiger
In this article, I will be reviewing the full profile of Malayan tigers in captivity and in the wild. We will be looking at key elements from the Malaysian Government and looking over local laws in Naples. Could anything have been done to prevent the shooting?
Naples Zoo officials released a lot of information regarding the tiger. The incident happened overnight when only one guard was presently on duty. The Zoos "Shoot team" that usually would manage a situation like this with a tranquilizer, or if necessary lethal rounds, was not present at the time of Eko's death. Reiterated words from the Zoo's Marketing Director.
When we pull local ordinances, we will see that there is no definition on Tigers in their local municipality. Exotic animals in general are not listed in Naples city code. This immediately reminds me of the caracal cats in Royal Oak. Update to last blog post after learning they escaped again mid-December. This would mean that the Police in Naples were not trained any proper method of handling a situation like this. The animal could have been tranquilized. However, tigers are not defined in their playbook.
Eko was a Malayan tiger currently on the IUCN's Red List for Threatened Species, where only 200 remain in the wild, and near 300 in the entire world. Eko was an ambassador of his kind, that was put down at the expense of, well, nobody. Eko was born in 2013 at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas, and finally Eko was moved to the Naples Zoo 2020.
Zoo officials state the man was either petting or feeding the tiger, named Eko, and "both of which are unauthorized and dangerous activities." The attack and killing of Eko occurred afterhours when the Zoo was closed. The person who initiated with the Tiger was identified as 26-year-old River Rosenquist.
Video from Dailymail showing Eko exerting signs of stress.
After seeing this video from Dailymail, what standards are being set to provide enrichment and happiness for the animal? I think Eko attacked because of a territorial response that he felt the need to carry out as a dominant male tiger. The man who interacted with Eko was definitely in the wrong. Here we have an animal that was transported recently to a newer facility, zoo staff that was well equipped and trained for this situation, and Police disposing of an animal that is critically endangered. This makes me wonder if anyone violated any international laws?
Referring to the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2010, we will see that international parties only concern themselves with the tigers currently in the wild in Peninsular Malaysia and the Federal Territory of Labuan. This Act provides for the regulation, protection, conservation and management of wildlife in Malaysia. In 2020, the proposed National Tiger Action Plan for Malaysia is to manage Tiger populations actively managed at carrying capacities across the three landscapes within the Central Forest Spine and connected with functioning corridors. This Plan identifies four objectives towards achieving this goal, secure the Central Forest Spine with strictly protected priority areas in landscapes connected with corridors, provide effective and long-term protection of tigers and their prey, promote and practice ecologically sound land-use, compatible with tiger conservation outside the priority areas and finally to apply science in monitoring the efficacy of conservation actions and improving the knowledge of tiger ecology. Source: MYCAT
Malayan tigers feed on native boar and deer populations, and typically leave livestock alone unless desperate. Farmers often target these tigers to defend their livestock. These tigers are often poached for their fur. It is key for local governments to protect national parks and places of importance in their habitat.
These animals can thrive in the wild, so long as we follow plans set in forth by local governments. Captivity is last resort. A female could have been placed with Eko. He was housed alone.
Bodycam footage of the incident with Eko the Tiger from Naples Daily News.
The officers had no choice but to shoot the animal. Despite previous findings in local municipality, I see why they chose to do what they did. They had no other resources available to them at the time. If they had resources available to them, maybe the Tigers life could have been spared.
The 8-year-old critically endangered tiger bit the hand of the man and wouldn’t let go until it was shot. The Officer can be heard asking for a tranquilizer. Source: Right here.
Average cost of a tranquilizer rifle built for zoological purposes - $200-$600USD.
Thanks for reading.
Artwork by Roger Hall.
EDIT: The Sumatran Tiger at the Jackson Zoo, named Eko, is a separate Tiger.
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