Sunday, July 02, 2006

Tiger Mauls Trainer in Moscow Circus

Tiger Mauls Trainer in Moscow Circus

Circus tiger mauls performer

July 2, 2006

A tiger mauled a well-known animal performer at a Moscow circus during a show, circus officials said on Sunday.

Doctors used nearly 100 stitches on Artur Bagdasarov for slash and puncture wounds, but the wounds were not life-threatening and the trainer was conscious, according to a statement posted on the performer's internet site.

Bagdasarov was trying to organise several tigers into a pyramid yesterday when a tiger named Caesar suddenly swiped at his shoulder, said Mikhail Bagdasarov, a relative and co-animal trainer.

"This lasted only 10 seconds. The tiger attacked him on his shoulder, pulled him under and tried to bend him, started to maul him with his paws," Mikhail Bagdasarov said in televised comments.

"At the moment when the tiger wanted to grab him by the neck, I rushed in (to the cage) and shot (a stun gun) into his jaws, and he pulled back."

Circus director Maksim Nikulin said that two tigers started to fight and that Artur intervened to prevent a brawl from breaking out among all 10 animals.

After the animal released Artur, he tried to leave the cage but collapsed.

"This tiger is just four years old and he's been in our troupe since birth, so no one ever expected this kind of event to happen," Artur's sister, Karina Bagdasarov, was quoted by RIA-Novosti news agency as saying.

Circus officials downplayed the incident, calling it an accident. "Not one animal trainer is without scratches and stitches. This situation is inevitable in this profession," Nikulin said in televised comments.

Trainers did not plan to punish the animal and would instead work with it today to try and determine exactly what caused the attack.

"If we were to shoot every tiger that attacks us, there wouldn't be any remaining," Karina said.


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