Circus lion mauls trainer in northern France

Footage: Lion Locks Jaws Around Keeper’s Throat, Drags Him Inside Ring During Circus Performance

Distressing footage has emerged online showing a circus lion savaging its trainer. The video, uploaded recently to Facebook, shows a young circus lion locking its jaws on its trainer’s throat and dragging him across the circus ring while a terrified audience screamed as pandemonium broke out.

The 30-year-old tamer was performing with a young male lion during a family show at the Buffalo Circus in Doullens, northern France, on Sunday, when the beast pounced unexpectedly in the middle of the performance, sinking its fangs into its handler’s throat. The video (see below) shows the young lion savaging its trainer in the middle of the performance in front of hundreds of spectators, including young children.

The big cat pounced suddenly, grabbing its trainer by the throat and dragging him around on the ground inside the enclosure. Local French news outlets reported that the trainer suffered serious injuries as a result of the attack, the Daily Mail reported. As the big cat ripped the trainer’s throat with its fangs and injured him with its claws, young children screamed in terror and parents rushed to get their children out of the circus tent.

The video shows people rushing out of their seats and scrambling to the exit. It also shows panicked parents grabbing their children and fleeing the venue. As the lion mauled the trainer, dragging him around inside the enclosure, other staff members at the Buffalo Circus rushed to the rescue.

One of the staff sprayed thick smoke that might have been from a fire extinguisher on the lion and its victim. The beast, startled by the smoke, released its victim and retreated. The victim scrambled to his feet and stumbled out of the arena to safety, holding his throat.

After it retreated initially, the lion appeared to chase the trainer, but it was beaten back by two staff members.

Local news outlet La Voix Du Nord (The Voice of the North), reported that the seriously injured lion tamer was transported to the hospital in a helicopter at about 5:10 p.m. on Sunday. His throat was reportedly ripped. He suffered deep wounds inflicted by the big cat’s fangs and claws. He had to undergo a five-hour surgical operation.

Doctors said he was “doing well” after the operation. He was expected to stay in the hospital in Amiens under observation for a few days before he is discharged.

Some members of the audience were also treated at the hospital. Some might have been treated for emotional trauma, while others might have been hurt during the rush to the exit.

The Facebook user who uploaded the video online said the loud piercing scream in the video was from his shocked 6-year-old daughter, the Sun reported.

“It’s my six-year-old girl who screams in the video, she cried all night.”

A spokesperson for the Buffalo Circus later told news reporters the tamer had been raising and training lions for the circus for years and that he was a very experienced handler. He said that was the first time he was attacked.

Francebleau, a local news outlet, said circus workers were baffled by the behavior of the young animal, which the tamer had raised and trained himself. A spokesperson for the circus said the trainer had worked with the lion since it was a little cub and that he had never had any problem with it until the attack, according to the Mirror.

A source close to the trainer insisted that the lion was well treated and well fed. The source also ruled out the possibility that the animal would be put down after the incident.

“The young lion is well treated, well fed and there is no question of euthanasia,” a source close to the victim said, according to the Daily Mail.

The source said the lion will remain part of the circus and will resume training and performance after its trainer has recovered.

But the Sun reported that another source suggested that the animal might be put down.

“We can no longer work with him,” a staff member reportedly said, according to the Sun.

[Featured Image by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]