NAPLES, FLORIDA – River Rosenquist, a 26-year-old contracted cleaner for HMI Commercial Cleaning Inc., was cleaning the rest rooms and gift shop when he decided to make his way over to the tiger enclosure. The HMI employees were not allowed in the enclosure, yet that did not stop Rosenquist.
Per the investigator, Kevin Kleis, Rosenquiest had to have hopped over a 4.5-foot safety barrier to reach the fence. The safety barrier had a sign that read “Danger Authorized Personnel Only.” After climbing over the safety barrier, Rosenquist approached Eko the tiger, and stuck his hand through the enclosure. The tiger came over and bit down on his arm. Immediately, Rosenquist made a 911 call to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, and upon arrival, the deputy fired at the tiger. The tiger released Rosenquist, and he was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers.
Rosenquist’s arm was saved despite reports that he had lost it. However, Eko died inside his enclosure soon after being shot. Since the incident, Rosenquist has retained a personal injury lawyer. With a lawsuit in the works, fault will be questioned heavily. But the FFWCC has already made their assessment.
Who's at Fault?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has performed an investigation involving Kleis and they have found the zoo to not be at fault. Between signage, safety barriers, and Rosenquist going outside his scope of field, the zoo could not have done much more to prevent what happened.
After the publication of the investigation, the Zoo public information officer Courtney Jolly Goff said, “The report speaks for itself. We do not have a comment at this time.” It is important to keep in mind that one report does not determine the outcome of the settlement result, but it will be interesting to see how Rosenquist’s attorney arguments fair.
Rosenquist avoided an amputation and continues to recover to this day. Also, a petition was started to press charges against him, however, the push was unsuccessful.
According to the former prosecutor Lee Hollander said, ill-advised does not equal illegal.
“On this petition, they were saying negligence, trespassing, any of those? He can’t be charged with any of that? Well, the trespassing, he was on the grounds with permission from the zoo as part of a cleaning crew so it wasn’t a trespass,” Hollander said.
Mercader, R. H. (2022, February 4). Florida Zoo not at fault in tiger attack where man put hand through enclosure, Agency says. USA Today. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/02/02/florida-zoo-tiger-attack-fault/6641661001/
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