Tigers stressed by the incident
By Jessica Lim
THE two white tigers involved in Thursday's attack on a cleaner are exhibiting symptoms of stress.
Normally relaxed and languid, they are now on constant alert, zoo officials said yesterday.
Their ears are pricked up, and they are breathing heavily.
This photo was taken by visitors at the tiger enclosure before the cleaner was killed.
These tigers were in the news last November when they killed a cleaner who jumped into their enclosure.Omar the white tiger
Species: Tiger (Panthera tigris)
Where it's found: Tigers can be found in India, Indochina, Peninsula Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Russia. White tigers are originally from India
Life expectancy: 15 - 20 years
Date of birth: Sept 27, 1999
Diet: Meat like beef, mutton, chicken
Star appeal: On loan to the Zoo from Taman Safari Indonesia, Omar is here with his 2 sisters, Winnie and Jippie. He endears himself to visitors because of his majestic presence and very handsome face.
Humans have a perception of beauty based on symmetry and proportion, and Omar conveys this beauty and grace especially when moving and swimming in his habitat.
He enjoys watching visitors from across the water moat, and has made many visitors happy by willingly posing (without actually knowing it) for memorable photographs
Nov 14, 2008
Cleaner killed by zoo tigers
By Khushwant Singh
According to eyewitnesses, Mr Nordin, who was seen shouting and flinging items about shortly before the incident, vaulted a low wall and landed in a moat in the enclosure, four metres below. -- ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW
A CLEANER at the Singapore Zoo who jumped into the white tiger enclosure yesterday was killed by the animals as a horrified crowd looked on helplessly.
Malaysian Nordin Montong, 32, was set upon by two of the three big cats in the enclosure at around noon.
White tiger exhibit safe for visitors: Zoo
THE white tigers' enclosure is safe for visitors as long as they stand outside it, the Singapore Zoo said yesterday.
It has closed the exhibit for the moment, but this is to facilitate investigations into the incident rather than for safety reasons, it said.
Singapore Zoo's white tigers
The Singapore Zoo has three white tigers, Omar, Winnie, and Jippie.
Earlier this year, 9-year-old Omar was short-listed as a possible contender to replace Ah Meng as the zoo's icon.
CLEANER MAULED TO DEATH
According to eyewitnesses, Mr Nordin, who was seen shouting and flinging items about shortly before the incident, vaulted a low wall and landed in a moat in the enclosure, four metres below.
Carrying a yellow pail and a broom, he then crossed the 1.75m-deep moat, walked up to a rocky ledge near where the animals were and began agitating them by swinging the broom.
As two of the tigers approached him, he covered his head with the pail, lay down on the ground, and curled himself into a foetal position, two eyewitnesses, an Australian couple, told police. Their identities were withheld pending investigations.
In a flash, two of the extremely rare white tigers were on him. One took a swipe at him with its paw - which is about the size of a softball glove - and he began screaming in pain, said another eyewitness, Dutch tourist W. R. de Boer.
He said many in the crowd of 30 or so onlookers at the enclosure initially thought the intrusion was part of a show.
But when Mr Nordin began screaming, they reacted with horror.
'Some were screaming: 'Go away' to the tigers and others were shouting to scare the tigers,' he said.
The cries alerted zoo staff, and the alarm was raised.
About 20 keepers arrived within minutes. Some tried to prevent the attack from continuing by throwing brooms and dustbin covers, while the rest ushered the shocked onlookers away.
Also deployed were two zookeepers armed with rifles and live ammunition, but these were not used, said the zoo's assistant director of zoology, Mr Biswajit Guha.
Despite the efforts of the keepers, one tiger continued attacking Mr Nordin for several minutes, the zoo said in a statement yesterday.
It only relented after a door to the tigers' feeding area was opened. The animals retreated to it, leaving the cleaner motionless on the ground.
Once the tigers were in the feeding area, the door separating it from the rest of the enclosure was closed, and keepers were able to reach the cleaner.
It was too late, however. Mr Nordin, who hails from Sarawak, had been bitten on the neck and suffered a fractured skull. He died before police arrived.
His colleagues later told zoo staff that the contract worker, who had been working at the zoo for about 41/2 months, had been behaving strangely minutes before the incident.
He had thrown his cutters and meal coupons about before telling them in Malay: 'Goodbye, you won't be seeing me again.'
He then rode off on his bicycle.
The Australian tourists also said they saw him shouting and throwing some things as he walked by the crocodile exhibit, just 10 minutes from the tiger enclosure.
Yesterday's incident was the first time a person had been killed by an animal at the zoo since it opened in 1973.
Before this, the most serious incident occurred in 2001, when Chawang, a bull elephant, gored his keeper of 18 years, Mr Gopal Krishnan.
The keeper suffered fractured ribs and a punctured lung, and was in hospital for close to two months before he eventually recovered.
The zoo, which had to stop the tram ride and prevent visitors from entering during the incident, said yesterday that it would close the white tiger exhibit temporarily as a precautionary measure. It did not say how long the closure would last.
It said the tigers, which are nine years old and were brought in from Sumatra in 2001, would not be put down as they had acted naturally.
This blog would not be complete if I don't introduce the zoo at home. Had the opportunity to visit the zoo last weekend and was glad to see new exhibits while the old ones have been improved.