Terrified families try to escape as fight breaks out between lions in a circus ring in Russia


Terrified families try to escape as fight breaks out between lions in a circus ring in Russia

  • Saratov circus in Russia was holding gala re-opening for hundreds of spectators
  • But audience members were shocked to see lions fighting each other in the cage
  • Reports said spectators became ‘frightened’ and ‘some hurried to leave show’

A vicious fight that broke out between lions in a circus ring has sent ‘terrified’ spectators scrambling for the exit.

Footage shows the big cats’ trainers wielding large sticks to strike the animals in front of hundreds of children and parents at a gala re-opening of a major Russian circus.

One lion attacked two others at the first performance after a four-year renovation at Saratov’s permanent circus complex.

The beasts ran amok in the ring before the trainers regained control.

Audience members were left ‘terrified’ and some ‘hurried to leave the show’ after a fight broke out between lions at the gala re-opening of the Saratov circus in Russia.

The fight came moments after the circus’s head lion trainer had told how Russia would defy demands from anti-cruelty campaigners for a ban on performing animals.

The ring was caged off but local reports said spectators had been ‘frightened’ and ‘some hurried to leave the show’.

The circus said there were no injuries to the trainers but the performance involving a dozen big cats was curtailed due to the ’emergency’, it was reported.

Some 500 were watching when the brawl broke out.

The circus said there were no injuries to the trainers but the performance involving a dozen big cats was curtailed due to the 'emergency'

The circus said there were no injuries to the trainers but the performance involving a dozen big cats was curtailed due to the ’emergency’

One lion attacked two others at the first performance after a four-year renovation at Saratov's permanent circus complex

One lion attacked two others at the first performance after a four-year renovation at Saratov’s permanent circus complex

Guest of honour Sergei Belyakov, head of the Russian State Circus, had told the audience that the reopening was ‘a splendid momentous event’.

Lion trainer Vladislav Goncharov admitted ahead of the fight that many countries had banned live animal performances.

‘Our Russian and Soviet circus lived and should continue to live,’ he said.

‘Children come to the circus primarily to see animals and clowns.

‘We will support and popularise it.’

The ring was caged off but local reports said spectators had been 'frightened' and 'some hurried to leave the show'

The ring was caged off but local reports said spectators had been ‘frightened’ and ‘some hurried to leave the show’

But there have been complaints of the lions crying through the night and disturbing local residents.

Local campaigner Sergei Borisov said: ‘This is not Africa, but the area next to the city circus.

‘They brought the lions ahead of the premiere performance.

‘It appears the lions were caged outdoors, while the lionesses are inside the building.

‘When will this animal abuse be banned? This is just barbarity.’

Irina Novozhilova, of animal rights group VITA, has called for the prohibition of all circuses with live animals, which remain popular across Russia.

‘No circus conditions will be humane for one simple reason,’ she said.

‘Training goes hand in hand with cruelty…. circuses are always cruel beyond limits.

‘And circuses with animals should be banned.’

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