Tiger attacks young girl in Saudi Arabia, highlighting the dangers of the Gulf’s fascination with wild pets
A tiger attacks a girl during a promotion show in Saudi Arabia. (File photo)
A young girl in Saudi Arabia had the scare of her life when she was attacked by a tiger during a promotion show.
The attack, captured by an onlooker on Saturday, occurred in an open space near a market in Sakaka in the northwestern part of the kingdom.
Witnesses said that the tiger was being shown off by its trainer as part of an entertainment programme featuring animals when it attacked the girl who started screaming.
The prompt intervention of the trainer rescued her from the wild animal, they added.
However, social media were buzzing with angry remarks that deplored the lack of security precautions, including fences.
"Even if the tiger is tamed, this was a dangerous situation that could have been fatal for the young girl or other spectators," one user said, quoted by Saudi news site Sabq.
Khalid Al Mutairi, another user, said that the highest safety measures should be followed at all times as wild animals behave instinctively and dangerously.
"This is a wild animal and its instinct is to attack, so regardless of the time spent taming it, its nature never changes and its killing readiness remains strong," he said. "All the necessary measures should be taken to ensure the highest levels of safety. Unfortunately, some people today look at keeping wild animals as a harmless fashion."
In November 2013, a five-year-old Qatari boy was attacked by a baby leopard causing him serious injuries.
Fahad was attending the circus with his mother in the Qatari capital Doha when the cub pounced upon him after the show and held his neck in its jaws.
He was rescued thanks to the quick intervention of some of the spectators and the trainer who initially grabbed the leopard by its fur and pulled hard, but, as the animal did not let go of its victim, they punched and hit it until it did.
In March, a privately-owned lioness in Saudi Arabia mauled a Kuwaiti national to death after it broke loose from its rope and broke his neck. The victim was on a visit to his friend, the wild animal owner.
In December 2014, a Filipina domestic helper died in Kuwait five days after she was mauled by a lion kept by her employer as a pet.
Authorities in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have often warned residents against keeping non-domestic animals in their homes or in majlises.
Keeping wild animals and exotic pets at home has turned into a fashion statement among the young and rich who see rearing them as a status symbol.
The phenomenon has taken ominous proportions as the purchase of illegal wild animals has become easy, mainly through social media platforms where they are advertised.
By Habib Toumi