This is the terrifying moment a circus lioness broke free from its trainer and attacked a four-year-old child.
The girl, named Ksenia, survived being pulled into the ring during a circus in Russia, but doctors say she will be scarred for life after sustaining serious face and chest injuries.
She had been waving a small flag when the lioness rushed from its trainer — despite being on a leash — and sprang on the child.
One account said the wild animal broke a flimsy safety net around the circus ring at Uspenskoye village in Krasnodar region.
Valentina Pavlova said she was a member of a medical team which treated the girl at the Central Republican Hospital in Krasnodar.
“There is a bite on her face that goes from ear to chin," said Pavlova.
“An eyewitness said her mother had allowed the girl to get close to the safety net and to wave a banner. The lioness reacted to this and with its paw pulled the child inside into the arena and sank its teeth into her head," she added.
“The circus team pulled the lioness away and brought the girl to the Central Republican Hospital. She is now in stable condition, there is no danger to her life.”
The girl is being treated in intensive care.
Edgard Zapashny, director of Big Moscow state circus, said both the local circus and the girl’s mother were responsible.
“I firmly believe that the blame lies completely with the owner and director of that traveling circus, the lioness’s trainer, and on the adult who came with the child and let go of her while being in the front row.”
Wild animals continue to be used for performances in Russian circuses.
The attack is likely to lead to increased calls to ban the use of performing predators like lions and bears.
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