A lion has savagely attacked a circus trainer during a routine performance caught on camera in Russia.
Video footage of the attack shows two lions entering the ring before they are followed by their handler, Maxim Orlov, during the Ural Travelling Circus performance on Saturday.
As Orlov approaches the side of the ring, one of the lions pounces and latches on to the handler’s leg, bringing him to the ground.
Orlov manages to stand upright and uses two batons to ward the lions away. However, one lion again manages to pin him down as the crowd shrieks in horror.
Many in the audience can be seen leaving their seats as the handler continues to struggle to hold the lions back.
Orlov reportedly sustained arm and leg wounds from the attack and required hospital treatment in Moshkovo, in the rural Novosibirsk region bordering Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
“The lionesses went berserk. When we ran away, there was a wild roar from the animals,” one audience member said.
Among the horrified audience members was a pregnant woman who is believed to have had an epileptic seizure from witnessing the shocking scene, local media reported.
“Cases such as today are very rare, but animals are animals,” Orlov said after he received treatment in hospital. “Vega is five years old and has been wayward since childhood,” the lion-tamer said, referring to the lion who attacked.
Orlov said the young lion will not perform again after the attack and the circus would “negotiate with the zoos to exchange her for a little lion cub.”
Orlov blamed the attack on the circus having not worked during the pandemic. However, others disagreed.
“What do you expect when you whip and prod and poke wild animals that shouldn’t be in a circus anyway?” one man asked in response to the video. “Ridiculous—maybe now that animal can go to a rescue sanctuary where it can live a semi-normal life.”
“How many similar cases before people stop seeing the suffering of wild animals as entertainment for children?” another added.
The attack follows a spate of dangerous live animal performances as many call for a ban on the circus practice.
In Italy, a veteran lion tamer was killed by four tigers during a rehearsal at Marina Orfei Circus in Triggiano, Bari.
One tiger bit Ettore Weber, prompting the other three to attack. The animals mauled the tamer for around 20 minutes as more than 100 people tried to rescue him.
Weber died from his injuries in July 2019. His show was part of the circus’s “Animal Park” event, which featured live animals from five continents.
Lion Mauls Circus Handler in Horrific Video – Newsweek