COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — The Collier County Sheriff Office issued a press release that states, “after a thorough investigation of the incident and after consulting experts in state and federal criminal law and the prosecution of same, it has been concluded that there are no applicable existing laws with which to charge Mr. River Rosenquist for his irresponsible acts that ultimately caused the death of Eko the tiger.”
The Sheriff said there are no laws on the books that apply to this reckless act.
“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, I am committed to developing draft legislation for our Florida legislators to consider that will hold accountable those who endanger animals with reckless acts.”
Naples Zoo president and CEO Jack Mulvena released a statement shortly after the Sheriff's Office announced its decision.
"We appreciate the time and effort put into trying to identify charges by the Collier County Sheriff's Office," Mulvena said. "we will continue to work with their talented teams to identify possible statutes that will result in criminal charges in the event of a similar incident in the future. We want to do everything that we can to keep this from happening again."
The sheriff's investigation, done in conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, said it could not charge Rosenquist with animal cruelty because it could not be proven that he unnecessarily stressed or tormented the animal.
Deputies responded to the tiger enclosure of the zoo on Dec. 29 to assist 26-year-old cleaning worker River Rosenquist, whose arm was clamped in the tiger's jaws.
Investigators believe Rosenquist was feeding or petting the animal. Zoo officials said they had neither permission nor authorization to be near the tiger enclosures.
The FWC report said that, at the time of the incident, Rosenquist had a set of keys on him investigators believe could belong to the zoo or an animal enclosure.
The responding deputies tried to kick at the enclosure in an attempt to get Eko to release his grip before one deputy ultimately fired their weapon at the tiger.