Audience Screams As Lynx Claws Russian Circus Trainer’s Head and Neck

Published by Michelle Kretzer.

Another day, another animal lashing out while being forced to perform in a circus. In a frightening new video shot by an audience member at a Russian traveling circus, a lynx claws a circus trainer who violently yanked him or her by a leash, causing both the animal and the high perch that he or she was balancing on to crash to the ground.

As the video starts, the animal seems terrified, digging into the teetering perch, trying to keep from falling onto the hard surface below. But the trainer keeps pulling and the stand keeps wobbling—and finally, the lynx falls through the stand, breaking it and landing on the ground alongside the shattered pieces. It’s then that the cat leaps onto the trainer, clawing his head, neck, and chest. Even more tragically, the animal was likely punished later.

Lynx are naturally shy, solitary animals who avoid contact with humans. Being forced to endure screaming crowds, glaring lights, pounding music, and the demands of a human—all while a leash is attached to a collar around their neck—is torment for these animals. Add to that being hauled from city to city in a small, barren cage and made to do confusing and uncomfortable stunts under the threat of physical punishment and it’s easy to understand why this cat would lash out.

PETA has documented hundreds of dangerous incidents involving animals forced to perform in circuses in the U.S. alone, even though exhibitors try to keep such occurrences secret as much as possible. Undercover investigations have also shown that extreme abuse behind the scenes is standard practice.

You can help animals abused by circuses. Buy tickets to only animal-free shows, and the next time a cruel performance comes to town, check out PETA’s step-by-step guide to taking action. You can also use our rapid-action form to speak up for animals suffering in circuses across the country:

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind