Thursday, November 20, 2008

Singapore Zoo Tiger: He fights tooth and nail to stay alive

GAPS in the first video of cleaner Nordin Montong's mauling by two white tigers at the Singapore Zoo left unanswered a critical question:

Did the 32-year-old have a change of heart after jumping into the enclosure?

Now, a new video has emerged of Thursday's incident from another eye-witness.

And it reveals Mr Nordin's desperate fight to save himself, first by trying to get up and back into the moat, then by kicking one of the two tigers.

Aziz Ansari, 16, who is waiting for his O-levels results, filmed the initial part of the horrific attack with his handphone.

'Initially, he was walking towards the tigers quite willingly,' said Aziz. 'But after the first attack, I think he realised the impact of it.'

The clip started with Aziz and his six friends at the white tiger exhibit joking about how far tigers could jump.

The next shot was of the tigers' enclosure, which showed Mr Nordin wading in the moat, attracting the attention of one, then two tigers, and getting pawed by them.

Mr Nordin was clearly taken by surprise by the ferocity of the attack. His right hand, holding onto a broomstick, was shaking.

Aziz and his friends made repeated calls to Mr Nordin to 'get into the water'.

Mr Nordin seemed to hear them because he made a sudden and desperate attempt to jump back into the water.

But the two tigers were too fast and too strong. Both cats clawed at him with their huge paws and knocked him down onto the stone ledge.

One cat bit the scruff of Mr Nordin's neck to prevent him from escaping and tried to drag him further into the enclosure.

Mr Nordin struggled violently to be free of the cat's grip, even kicking the cat at one point.

Held down

Held down by the powerful cats, he then covered his head with the yellow pail that he was holding.

Then he stopped moving, seemingly paralysed in a foetal position, despite repeated calls by the public for him to get into the water.

The clip, which is just under two minutes long, ended there.

Said Aziz: 'I could see his face and he was shouting and screaming. Then I knew that something terrible had happened.'

He had first thought that Mr Nordin was going to feed the tigers because he was holding onto a pail while in the water.

But when the tigers started attacking him, he realised that this was no show.

Aziz said they shouted themselves hoarse trying to encourage Mr Nordin to escape.

He said: 'I could tell that he (Mr Nordin) was trying to escape. He looked like he had changed his mind.'

AsiaOne, Singapore