Tiger attack! Do you feel safe in the Zoo?




These are photos of two tigers taken at Zoo Negara two months ago.

Do you feel safe in the Zoo?

Zoos in any part of the world should assure that the wild animals in the exhibits would not pose any danger to visitors .The safety measures taken should meet the standards recommended by the association of zoos and aquariums (AZA). Visitors too need to be reminded to be abide to the rules for their own safety when they visit the Zoo.

I have visited a number of zoos and I wonder whether Zoo officials can really assure the public that the exhibits are “very safe”.

I remembered reading a report in the newspaper years ago of a lady teacher from Malacca who was attacked and killed by a white tiger at a zoo in Indonesia. I believe there are many more cases and stories like that in the world.

In the “Tiger temple” at Thailand, tourists are allowed to be photographed with the tigers. The tigers were even allowed to be taken out of the temple premise to pose with tourists because the officials in charge assure that these tigers are very tame and safe .

Many curious tourists took this opportunity to pose with these tigers. Are they really very safe for them posting a photograph with these wild animals.


This was the photo taken by W. R. de Boer when the two white tigers at Singapore zoo attacked Nordin. He covered his head with a yellow pail, laid down on the ground, and curled himself into a foetal position.

The Straits Times Singapore reported that Nordin Montong, a 32-year-old cleaner from Sarawak, was attacked and killed by three of the white tigers on Thursday 13-11-2008 about noon in the exhibit at Singapore Zoo.

According eyewitness, Dutch tourist W. R. de Boer who was at the scene, Nordin was seen shouting and flinging items. He then 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.

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.

Some visitors even assumed it was part of the zoo show, until the huge cat started sinking its teeth into the back of the cleaner’s neck and tossed him around repeatedly like a ragdoll.

Blood could be seen oozing from Nordin’s back. The cleaner struggled and thrashed his legs about and became still about five minutes later.

More than a dozen zookeepers went to Nordin’s rescue. They managed to distract the big cats and shooed them back into their den.


16 responses to “Tiger attack! Do you feel safe in the Zoo?

  1. Any animal that kill a man, that animal should be put to sleep. Singapore Zoo like wise should to do the same to the white tiger/ tigers.

  2. Very well done. All the pictures of the tigers are very relevant to the interesting story you wrote. Mr de Boer’s picture of the tigers tell the tale vividly. The question is whether the tigers have to be killed for killing a human being? I say they should not be killed because they just followed their animal instincts and it doesn’t serve a purpose killing them.

  3. Reader and Dale Ng,
    Thanks for both comments. I am caught in a difficult position.One go for kill and the other disagree. But these white tigers were provoked however I agree more with Dale’s reasons . What you say about this ?

  4. I think whether the tigers should be killed or not is a question which should not have even been brought up.

    The zoo has safety protocols – they have to because animals are unpredictable and there are always risks when you work with them, regardless of how dangerous they are.

    The cleaner was in clear breach of this safety protocol. As mentioned by the zoo spokesperson, in one of the Straits Times reports, under their safety guidelines, NO ONE is meant to be in the enclosure until the animals are in their dens. Not even the keepers who, of all people, would know the tigers’ individual characters/temperaments.

    I mean seriously guys, do you honestly expect a wild tiger to act like a kitten just because it’s in a zoo? Tigers are territorial and this guy was provoking them.

    I would feel safe in the zoo, I always have, this attack doesn’t change anything for me.

    This is a tragic incident, no doubt but I am getting tired of all the flak the zoo is receiving. It’s not like the tiger exhibit is dangerous in the first instance – I believe they’ve done all they can to ensure that the tigers don’t get out of their enclosure and start attacking people. If someone chooses to go out of their way to get into the enclosure however… what can the zoo do?

  5. Nadia
    Thanks for your comment and I really agree the reasons and your stand of this issue.It is not the fault of the white tigers and the Zoo but I feel sorry for the tragic incident that the cleaner was killed.As I said earlier, these tigers were provoked by the cleaner himself.

  6. People can be extremely senseless when it comes to close encounters with wild animals. In the US, I actually saw a man try to put his 3 year old on the back of a bison – the herd was roaming wild in a National Park so he said they should be tame. He didn’t grasp the fact that he was visiting the animal’s home, the animals were not there for photographic experiences.

    I know the situation in a zoo is a little different, but wild animals are wild, no matter where they live. And people should be respectful of the animals and not put them in harm’s way because the animals follow their instincts.

  7. @reader
    I hope you’re trolling, because your comment makes you sound like a simplistic idiot.

  8. With regards to the notorious Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand: following repeated complaints from tourists and volunteers working at the temple about tigers being shockingly mistreated there, Care for the Wild International (CWI) undertook an intensive two year investigation. The resulting CWI report reveals illegal wildlife trade, animal cruelty, false conservation claims and visitor safety risks at the Temple.

    You can read the report at: http://www.careforthewild.com/projects.asp?detail=true&I_ID=580&mypage=Reports

    This issue has widespread media coverage:

    CWI’s press release – “Illegal tiger trade, cruelty and human health hazards at famous tourist destination”:

    “Black market tigers linked to Thai Temple, Reports says”
    National Geographic News, 20 June 2008:

  9. Pingback: the lady or the tiger

  10. I guess people got to have more sense than to try to disturb wild animals. It doesn’t matter where they are, in or outside the zoo. The cleaner should know better but, judging by the description in the news report, it seems like he was out of his mind to provoke those big cats. It’s tragic that the tigers turned on him. The zoo admin should impress on their workers the safety guidelines to follow when dealing with animals. I’m sure all zoos would have that kind of policy and other safety measures, but had the Singapore Zoo done enough before this tragic incident?

  11. the pale colour of the tigers eye in the second photo is really unique, i like it a lot..
    who knew cats like water 🙂

  12. Chloe
    Thanks for dropping by and leaving me a comment. You know tiger can swim.I will post some pictures of these tiger swimming.

  13. Beautiful shots of the tigers. They are such extraordinary animals.

    A human being with a waste basket on his head is not nearly as beautiful or extraordinary.

  14. okay i cant wait to see them how cute, i like white bengal tigers 🙂

  15. Hi my friends
    Sending a word of thank you from Starbucks at Cameron Highland.I am just taking a break to this cool highland holiday resort.

  16. Dwayne C. Ramsey

    The zoo should not be held accountable if the cleaner did not follow the safety rules. According to the report, the cleaner got into tigers’ enclosure and began taunting the animals and they attacked him. Anytime you tease a wild animal, you will end up paying for it. That price could sometimes mean that you lose your life!

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