A Southwest Florida community is doing what it can to honor Eko, an 8-year-old Malayan tiger shot and killed at the Naples Zoo in December.
The Lake Park Community wants to honor Eko by renaming a lake in his honor.
The tiger was killed by a Collier County deputy who responded to a call for service at the zoo after River Rosenquist, a member of the cleaning crew, stuck his hand in the tiger’s enclosure which led Eko chomping down on it.
Eko was attempting to pull Rosenquist, who nearly lost his arm, through. In order to free Rosenquist, Eko had to die.
“It’s just so devastating that a gorgeous animal like that could fall to some very stupid act,” said Naples resident Sue Schulte.
Jan Chattler only saw Eko once, but she hold the memory close.
“He is fantastic,” said Chattler, a Lake Park Community member. “He is gorgeous. He was perfect, basically.”
Chattler took action to memorialize Eko by collecting signatures in a petition to change the name of the lake just outside of her community and mere minutes from the zoo from Naples Lake number 19 to Eko lake.
“So everybody felt that it was a good tribute to him since he could be honored that way and we could remember what happened,” Chattler said.
The renaming comes at the same time as Naples Zoo President Jack Mulvena is looking into bringing a new tiger to the zoo, although Mulvena admits Eko cannot be replaced.
Mulvena called the honor by the community “heartwarming” and “touching.”
“It’s a great demonstration of the kind of support we have in the community,” Mulvena said. “We are healing but the community is healing as well so this is a nice way for the community to heal themselves.”
The Naples City Council discussed the idea on Monday and are looking into the procedure on changing the lake’s name.