Moment big cat trainer is savaged by a TIGER during performance at family circus show in Italy

Moment big cat trainer is savaged by a TIGER during performance at family circus show as the animal hauls him to the floor and bites his neck

  • Shocking footage shows moment Ivan Orfei, 31, was pounced upon by the cat
  • Tiger snuck up beside its master and bit into his leg before pulling him down 
  • The trainer escaped with non-life threatening injuries as animal protection groups called for a ban on using animals in circus shows

A big cat trainer in Italy was savaged by a pair of tigers during a family circus show in the Italian province of Lecce on Thursday evening.

Shocking footage shows the moment Ivan Orfei, 31, was pounced upon by one of the hulking cats who snuck up beside him while he was instructing its companion during a performance at the Marina Orfei Circus in Surbo.

The tiger hauled the trainer to the floor by the leg before circling him and jumping on his back, biting down on its helpless master’s neck. 

Ivan was rushed to Lecce’s Vito Fazzi hospital with deep wounds to the neck, leg and arm inflicted by the feline during the show, but managed to escape life-threatening injuries and was later discharged. 

The tiger was isolated following the show to undergo veterinary tests. It is not clear whether it will be put down as a result of the attack.

At first the tiger is placid and follows the commands of its master who is directing it with stick

A statement posted yesterday on Facebook by circus management read: ‘Ours is a world made of great love for animals, as Ivan himself demonstrates to the public in his shows. 

‘Tigers are fascinating animals and knowing how to tame and establish them a relationship of trust with man is an art that has been taking place for hundreds of years not only in the circus world. 

‘However, accidents can happen and the courage shown by those like him who carry out this profession is commendable’.

The post continued: ‘Ivan, a very talented professional trainer, was hit by a tiger during the show and fortunately suffered minor injuries and his condition is not cause for concern.’  

But the cat then sinks its fangs into the trainer’s leg, dragging him down before circling behind him and biting at his neck

The International Organisation for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) said the attack was evidence that a national law banning circus acts involving wild animals should be implemented.

OIPA, an NGO associated with several UN bodies, has been asking various governments for years to reform the law on the use of animals for entertainment purposes.

The NGO’s president Massimo Comparotto said in a statement: ‘Behind the exercises of the circus show hides months of deprivation, mistreatment and suffering. It is no wonder that episodes like this happen.

Comparotto added: ‘Animals that perform in circuses live in captivity behind bars, with limited space available, and perpetually under stress. They live a life opposed to their nature and sometimes they rebel

‘What happens to the animals that attack the circuses. What is their protection?’