A lion forced to perform in a circus in Lugansk, Ukraine, pounced on 32-year-old lion handler Hamada Kouta mid-act on March 23. The handler sustained injuries to his arms, legs, and back. “[O]ne tooth was inside the muscle and it is serious,” he said. Children and other audience members screamed as the lion took him down. The horrifying incident was caught on video:
“I was covered in blood,” Kouta said after. The handler—who can be seen in the video trying to fight the lion off with a large stick—blamed the incident on the lions’ stressful schedule, admitting that the animals were forced to perform immediately after arriving in Lugansk. This is far from surprising. Circuses routinely cart lions and other animals from town to town in barren cages and deprive them of opportunities to fulfill their basic needs to exercise, roam, socialize, forage, and play. Many wild animals used for entertainment are forced to eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and urinate in the same place. Sometimes, the only time these animals are let out of cages is for their brief performances—when they’re subjected to whippings and roaring crowds.
Know what else isn’t surprising? This entire incident.
Lions are big, dangerous predators who have teeth and claws that they use to protect themselves. Those forced to perform in circuses suffer psychologically. They’re trained using punishment and food deprivation (although they can never actually be tamed) and denied everything that’s natural and important to them. It’s no wonder that some snap.
An almost identical incident occurred in France less than two years ago.
Since 1990, in the U.S. alone, 130 captive big cats and 25 humans have died and more than 280 humans have been injured in similar incidents. We shouldn’t be shocked when wild animals act like wild animals. Enslaving and abusing living beings for entertainment is never acceptable. Please, never buy a ticket to a circus that uses animals—attend only those that use willing human performers. Click below to do more: