A large cat trainer in Italy was attacked by a pair of tigers during a family circus show in the Italian province of Lecce on Thursday evening.
Shocking footage shows the moment when 31-year-old Ivan Orfei was attacked by one of the colossal cats that snuck up next to him as he instructed his companion during a performance at the Marina Orfei Circus in Surbo.
The tiger pulled the trainer to the ground by his leg before circling around him and leaping onto his back, biting the neck of his helpless master.
Ivan was rushed to Vito Fazzi Hospital in Lecce with deep wounds to the neck, leg and arm inflicted by the cat during the show, but managed to escape life-threatening injuries and was later discharged.
The tiger was isolated after the show to undergo veterinary testing. It is not clear if it will be put down as a result of the attack.
At first, the tiger is calm and follows the orders of its master who controls it with a stick
A statement posted on Facebook yesterday by the circus management read: “Our world is made of great love for animals, as Ivan himself demonstrates to the public in his shows.
‘Tigers are fascinating animals and being able to tame them and build a trusting relationship with humans is an art that has not only been practiced in the circus world for hundreds of years.
“However, accidents can happen and the courage shown by people like him who practice this profession is commendable.”
The post continued, “Ivan, a very talented professional trainer, was hit by a tiger during the show and luckily suffered minor injuries and his condition is not a cause for concern.”
But the cat then sinks its fangs into the trainer’s leg, dragging him down before circling behind him and biting his neck
The International Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) said the attack was evidence that there should be a national law banning circus shows involving wild animals.
OIPA, an NGO associated with various UN bodies, has been asking various governments for years to review the law on the use of animals for entertainment purposes.
The president of the NGO, Massimo Comparotto, said in a statement: ‘Behind the exercises of the circus performance are months of deprivation, abuse and suffering. It’s no wonder episodes like this happen.
Comparotto added: ‘Animals performing in circuses live in captivity behind bars, with limited available space and under constant stress. They lead a life contrary to their nature and sometimes rebel
‘What happens to the animals that attack the circuses? What is their protection?’