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The purpose of any “keep out” sign or no trespassing sign is to protect the public from whatever dangers lie inside. Not only that, by personal injury law, we are all bound to a duty of care towards others; ensuring each other’s safety by not engaging in dangerous actions that will harm others as well as warning others when housing or sustaining something that is dangerous. A personal injury lawyer will support the fact that if there’s a sign telling you to stay away in a zoo setting, it’s usually for your own good.

One person in Florida learned the hard way as he ignored clear signage and barriers at a Florida zoo alerting park goers to stay out of the enclosure and not get close to the tiger. The person, river Rosenquist, was a contracted cleaner restricted to cleaning just the zoo’s restrooms and gift shops. The individual called 911 after he scaled a 4.5 foot fence and stuck his hand through. The tiger then clamped its mouth on his arm and after a Collier County Sheriff’s deputy fired a gun at the tiger, the tiger then released the trespasser’s arm, but at the cost of the life of the tiger who died. Responders then airlifted the trespasser to a nearby hospital where doctors saved his arm.

After the incident’s investigation, law enforcement released this statement, “At the conclusion of my investigation, I found no violations as it relates to the Naples Zoo,” commission investigator Kevin Kleis wrote. “Mr. Rosenquist had to have breached the posted structural safety barrier by jumping over it and inserting his hand or arm into the tiger’s enclosure, leading to this incident. Structural safety barriers are designed to keep unauthorized persons from getting within close proximity to dangerous wildlife enclosures for safety reasons.”

The cages were bound by an 8-foot high perimeter fence with barbed wire at the top. The tiger’s enclosure is composed of 13-foot walls with an open top made of 7-gauge steel welded wire. To top it off a sign is posted on the enclosure reading, “Danger Authorized Personnel Only.”

Given this, a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the zoo was not at fault for the tiger attack. And rightly so, federal law and most state laws observe this sweeping view in personal injury law on trespassing that if clear and visible signage is placed around a point of danger and a person deliberately ignores it, then the property owner is not at fault if that person experiences injury while trespassing.

Thanks to Federick J. Brynn, P.C. for their expertise in the area of personal injury law.


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