A lion tamer working in an Egyptian circus was attacked by one of the beasts he trained in front of a terrified audience.
Thirty-five-year-old Islam Shaheen appeared to point at one beast with a stick before a second climbed up a ladder during the show in Alexandria. But he is then attacked by a third lion which reared on its hind legs and clamped its jaws around Mr Shaheen’s neck while children in the audience screamed in shock.
Other trainers immediately rushed to his side and tried to push the lion away with sticks, but Mr Shaheen died from his injuries in hospital. He had been working as a trainer for a decade. Medics battled to save him, but his injuries were too severe. He had sustained a cracked skull, a number of other broken bones and deep lacerations to his face and neck.
It is understood that the lion which attacked had just arrived at the circus after being shipped from South Africa. A spokesperson for the circus said that it had been behaving erractically because it was the mating season. Meanwhile, the circus owner Sharif Emam, said that five assistants had been in place specifically to protect the lion trainers.
The lion is now undergoing vet checks and will not be taking part in any upcoming performances. It is not clear whether it will be able to return to its work. The latest incident adds to growing calls for live animals to be removed from circus performances worldwife.
The fatality comes 12 months following a lion attack on another tamer in Egypt. The female trainer, Faten El-Helw was waving to fans when the lion sprang from its stool and attacked her, sinking its teeth into her shoulder. She was able to escape with only a broken pelvis when another circus worker coaxed the lion back into its cage.