A Ukrainian lion tamer, Oleksie Pinko, was mauled by two lions during a live circus performance in Lviv, Ukraine, when the circus act went surprisingly wrong.
At the beginning of the video Pinko was already visibly limping, having already been attacked by a lion, but as he continued to jab the lion, it lunged.
The crowd could be heard screaming in the background as Pinko frantically tried to fend off the lions with a long steel rod. Many of the screams were from children as near as ten feet from the incident.
The first lion roared and lunged at the tamer moments before a second lion joined in the fray, biting the tamer by his arm.
Doug Sheperd, a US tourist who attended the performance with his two children, provided the footage in the following video. “Kids are screaming, and kids are only 10ft away, and (my family was) probably 35ft away,” said Sheperd.
“You have a handler from outside poking through the net, and then there’s one inside who almost gets eaten. But the lions are after the trainer.”
Masha Shepherd, Doug’s wife, said “I was just grabbing my daughter and trying to run because I thought that they were going to come out.”
Two assistants helped Pinko force the lions into their cage with a water cannon, but not before Pinko was attacked a third time by the same two lions.
Pinko is in stable condition after emergency surgery at a hospital for his wounds.
Notice how the same two lions appeared intent upon attacking only Pinko and no one else. That may prove to be important if there is any investigation of the attack.
Camera man Doug Sheperd told CBS News: “My son said. ‘I don’t want to go the circus ever again,’ and I don’t blame him.”
Sheperd’s son may have quit the circus, but Oleksie Pinko is still taming lions five years after this attack.
Editor’s note: This post updated 7/7/2015.
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