A video has surfaced showing a lion tamer being attacked and fatally mauled by one of the circus lions participating in a live show in Alexandria, Egypt, this week. The footage, although shaky, captured the moment the lion attacked and the subsequent attempts by other handlers to separate the lion from the injured man.
The Independent reported this week that a live audience watched in horror as a circus lion tamer, 35-year-old Islam Shaheen, was suddenly attacked and mauled by a lion during a live show in Alexandria. The lion, a circus spokesperson stated, was new to the circus, having been brought over from South Africa, according to a report from Al Arabiya.
The lion attack was caught on video by an audience member. Footage shows that Shaheen and two other trainers were inside a barred enclosure for the show. Shaheen is seen moving back and forth between three lions that he is directing with a stick onto pedestals of various heights.
As the Daily Mail recounted the incident, the lion closest to the audience then, without warning, left its assigned seat, reared up on its hind legs and bit the tamer on the neck, knocking the unsuspecting man to the ground. Children screaming and audience members’ shouts can be heard throughout the attack.
The attack video also showed that, as the lion mauled Shaheen, the tamer’s colleagues frantically poked and prodded the massive lion with sticks to try and force it away from the defenseless man. After finally succeeding in separating the lion and the victim, the latter was rushed to a nearby Adalusian Salam hospital.
Islam Shaheen reportedly suffered from multiple injuries from the lion mauling, including a fractured skull, deep lacerations to his face and neck, several broken bones in his chest, and abdominal bleeding. He passed away a few days later.
According to Shaheen’s brother, he had worked as a circus trainer for ten years.
Several reasons for the lion attack have been offered, according to the Al Arabiya report. A close friend of Shaheen, Seif Ali, told Al-Arabiya.net that the attack occurred because the lion was hungry. Speculation by others included the lion being startled by loud music, which can be heard in the background of the video.
Circus spokesman Mohammed Mustafa, however, denied the claims, stating that the attack occurred due to the lion being in mating season, causing it to behave erratically.
The lion attack comes just a year after a female lion tamer — also in Egypt — was mauled by one of her trained animals during a live performance. That incident was caught on video as well.
According to the Daily Mail, footage showed the tamer, Faten El-Helw, moving around in the ring as she waved to her cheering fans when the huge lion suddenly launched from its stool and pounced on her. The tamer was immediately pinned to the ground, the lion biting her on the shoulder. In the meantime, the audience had risen to its collective feet, screaming as the attack unfolded.
Still, with the help of a circus co-worker who led all the show lions from the ring and back to their cages, the injured El-Helw fortunately was able to rise from the ground. She was quickly removed from the show area.
El-Helw was subsequently rushed to a nearby hospital where it was x-rays revealed that, in addition to the wound to her shoulder, she had suffered a hairline fracture to her pelvis. She went on to make a full recovery.
Following the recent Alexandria attack, the lion was removed from the live show and will be examined by a veterinarian.
[Feature Image by Volodymyr Burdiak/Shutterstock]