This is the moment a lioness mauled a circus trainer during a performance in Russia. Horrific footage from the incident shows the big cat attacking trainer Maxim Orlov during a performance of the Ural Travelling Circus on Saturday. According to Daily Mail, scared spectators rushed out of the circus tent as things took a wrong turn and the lioness, named Vega, turned on its tamer.
Disturbing visuals from the ring show the lioness jumping on Maxim Orlov -- who was advancing towards it with a pole -- and biting him several times.
Mr Orlov and other members of the circus were able to fend off the big cat, but not before she managed to cause injuries to his arms and legs. After her attack, the lion trainer was rushed to a hospital in Moshkovo, Novosibirsk region.
"The lionesses went berserk," said one witness, identified only by first name Viktoria. "When we ran away, there was a wild roar from the animals. The tamer was attacked" she added. Another woman who witnessed the attack reportedly suffered an epileptic seizure from shock.
According to Metro News, Vega was seen brawling in the ring with another lioness, named Santa, before the performance.
But despite being mauled, her trainer insists that such instances are few and far between.
"Vega is five years old and has been wayward since childhood," Mr Orlov was quoted as saying. "Cases such as today are very rare, but animals are animals," he said, adding the Vega would not perform again after the attack.
"We will negotiate with the zoos to exchange her for a little lion cub," he said.
Something similar happened at a circus in Ukraine two years ago, when a lion turned on its trainer and attacked him.