Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tiger, tiger... but things still burning bright

Tiger, tiger... but things still burning bright

by Sheela Narayanon - Sat, Nov 22, 2008

GETTING back on track slowly but surely. That is the attitude the Singapore Zoo is taking a week after the fatal tiger mauling that took place at the park on Nov 13.

Cleaner Nordin Montong had climbed into the white tigers' enclosure and provoked the three big rare cats into attacking him.

Despite the worldwide media coverage about the tragic incident, the zoo's popularity was not dented as locals and tourists thronged the park over the past week.

One reason could be the zoo's new exhibit, the 3ha Rainforest KidzWorld to attract children.

It includes a maze, a carousel, a dinosaur walk and a wet play area.

The zoo's curator of zoology Subash Chandran (right) also credits the quick return of confidence to the zoo's 35-year reputation as a safe and fun place.

He told tabla! that the visitors' confidence in the zoo remained high: 'People know that we have the highest regard for their safety and we are vigilant. The zoo has always been a fun place to go and our staff is very enthusiastic.'

The new exhibit, which replaced the old children's petting zoo, reinforced that image, added Mr Chandran, 56.

'We have sessions where the children can groom the miniature horses and get to touch the rabbits,' he said.

There are also activity books published by the zoo to complement the new attraction.

The zoo veteran, who has been with the park even before it officially opened in 1973, admitted that it has been a "trying" week for the zoo's staff.

Mr Nordin, a 32-year-old cleaner from Sarawak, East Malaysia, jumped into the tigers' enclosure with a yellow pail and a broom. He agitated them by swinging his broom at them.

Two of the tigers set upon him and he later died from bites to his neck and a fractured skull.

The tigers - Omar, Jippie and Winnie - were confined to their den for five days before they were let back into their enclosure on Nov 18.

Mr Subash said the tigers were a "bit apprehensive when they saw people" but settled down quickly and were back to their "inquisitive" selves.

The zoo is reviewing its safety measures and looking into adding alarms at various points within its premises, increasing patrols and setting up a closed circuit television (CCTV) near exhibits of potentially dangerous animals.

Mr Chandran said: 'It will take time but we can get past this incident.'

http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20081122-102579.html

http://www.bigcatrescue.org

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