White tiger remains star attraction despite killing man

This consummate killer has never been subjected to a trial.

He was, it was assumed, merely following his natural instincts - that of a killer. Omar is a star attraction at the Singapore Zoo.

Three years ago, he attacked and snapped the neck of his victim in full view of 200 visitors.

Omar and two white tigresses - Jippie and Winnie - attacked cleaner Nordin Montong, 32, who had leapt into the tiger enclosure and waded towards them.

Mohammad Khairul Nizam Zainal, 16, who had filmed the attack, had said then: "There was this man in the water carrying a broom and a yellow pail, and I thought it was a show."

His video clip shows the cats looking on curiously.

When Mr Nordin got close, puffed up his chest and raised his arms, Omar swiped him with his right paw.

The impact sent the man sprawling.

As Omar and Jippie pawed and bit the cleaner, the visitors shouted at Mr Nordin to get back into the water.

They threw stones and an umbrella at the tigers.

But Omar dragged Mr Nordin away from the moat before sinking his massive jaws into the man's neck. Zoo employees then ushered the crowd away.

They broke open the emergency box and, using a loud-hailer, gong and pebbles, managed to get Jippie and the third tiger, Winnie, back into the dens.

Through a fence, a keeper hit Omar's head with a pole to get him to drop Mr Nordin and return to his den.

Once the tigers were secured, medical personnel attended to Mr Nordin. But it was too late.

A pathologist noted that Mr Nordin had 90 external injuries from top to toe, in addition to fractures of the skull, neck and ribs.

It was ruled a suicide by State Coroner Victor Yeo in 2009.

The coroner said then: "It seems clear from the evidence adduced that the deceased had not accidentally fallen into the tiger enclosure, but had deliberately jumped into the moat, waded through the water...before thrusting his chest towards the advancing tiger with both arms outstretched."

As his death was ruled a suicide, no workmen's compensation was paid to Mr Nordin's family.

The zoo's assistant director Biswajit Guha had said that the white tigers had never before made physical contact with a human being since they were brought to Singapore in 2001.

The zoo has introduced more safety enhancements following the tragedy.

Patrols by keepers and staff members have been stepped up and signs highlighting an emergency call number have been put up at four of the more dangerous exhibits - the white tiger, lion, polar bear and chimpanzee enclosures.

The white tiger exhibit has been equipped with emergency buttons for staff or visitors to raise an alarm.

The authorities have also approved sound and flash grenades and slingshots to be used by keepers.


This article was first published in The New Paper.