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Circus trainer mauled by three tigers in Hamburg

The Local · 9 Dec 2009, 11:28

Published: 09 Dec 2009 10:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Dec 2009 11:28 GMT+01:00

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Just before the “Pagels Dinner Zirkus” began at the Hagenbeck zoo, 28-year-old Christian Walliser stumbled and fell, losing control of the big cats. As some 200 spectators looked on, three of the five Bengal tigers attacked.

“According to their nature the three big cats began to ‘play’ with the animal trainer as a spontaneous reaction,” show director Stefan Pagels said in a statement, adding that it had been a “tragic accident.”

“It looked as though they were playing with a sack,” one witness told daily Bild on Wednesday.

According to Pagels, other trainers were able to lure the tigers away from Walliser within 30 seconds by following their plan for such emergencies. After the animals were secure, a doctor from the audience stabilised Walliser and stopped the bleeding from his severely injured hand as other spectators were evacuated from the zoo’s historic dressage hall.

Walliser was transported to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries and two audience members were treated for shock on-site.

The trainer suffered major head and chest wounds, and had to have his hand amputated, news agency DDP reported.

“An accident during certain special tricks with animals on the trapeze or on the high wire is unfortunately always possible,” Pagels said, adding that performers and crew are extremely worried about their colleague.

But late in the evening the ensemble decided together that the circus motto, “The show must go on,” applied even in this case, and they will go ahead with their next performance as planned on December 15 - but this time without tigers.

Story continues below…

As of mid-morning on Wednesday the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), where Walliser is being treated, was unable to provide details on his condition.

A similar accident occurred six years ago in Las Vegas when famous tiger trainer Roy Horn of the “Siegfried and Roy” duo was severely injured in an attack on-stage.

The Hagenbeck Tierpark arena is among Europe’s oldest circus halls. Some 800 shows with tigers, lions, elephants and other animals have been staged there in the last decade without incident.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:20 December 9, 2009 by design
Germans should have learned their lessons with siegfreid and roy.. tigers and lions like the taste of Germans..
14:12 December 9, 2009 by Actuality
These animals belong in their natural habitat. We have no right to presume ownership over them, much less turn them into objects of amusement. So, as cases like this will accelerate Germany joining the civilised world which has outlawed animal circuses, I say:

14:26 December 9, 2009 by Frenemy
I'm sorry for the affected families and whatnot, but.....hahahaha!

It's a big freakin feline death-machine!! Why do people have so much difficulty understanding such simple concept?!

These fools deserve the "darwin-award"....
16:34 December 9, 2009 by AdenBrill
Good, let's hope he has a slow and painful death and that all his faily suffer for his wickedness.

Cruel basta*rds like that deserve no mercy.
18:03 December 9, 2009 by Frenemy
@adenbrill: was that sarcasm?

In any case, I think such circus tricks should be tried with leopards or pumas/cougars....I just wanna be there to see what happens (tigers and lions are probably the most tolerant/domesticated of predatory cats).
09:53 December 10, 2009 by LancashireLad

When the animal "attacked" Roy, it didn't actually do any such thing. It wanted to *protect* him. How do these animals usually carry their young around? By the neck. The animal felt that Roy (who had been its companion and trainer since its birth) was in danger so it tried to get him out of that danger. It did not turn on him.

The same *might* have been true here.

BTW I also completely disagree with animals as circus entertainment. I have been to human only circuses and thouroughly enjoyed them. The sad thing is that these animals will probably be put down. They certainly can't be returned to the wild as they may no longer have the skills to survive - that is of course assuming they were captured and not born in slavery.
10:17 December 10, 2009 by fassfrau
Animals have no place in circuses and the sooner people stop paying to see them the better! when you play with Big Animals you run the risk of getting hurt, a sipmle fact!
11:09 December 10, 2009 by Frenemy
@LancashireLad: lately I've found that I'm actually LIVING in a "human only circus"....lol
11:06 December 11, 2009 by Alicya
If you don't listen you have to learn the hard way

I never take my kids to the circus of suffering for wild animals.

Maybe one day will come and people start to wake up.. that tigers,elephants and all other animals aren't born to preform those stupid idiotic tricks but that they are WILD animals.

I hope that because of the fault of human that the tigers have to pay for it,but I think that people will never learn and blame it on the animals.
15:36 December 11, 2009 by Liza Englander
Tigers aren't supposed to be locked up in cages or trained to show off to an audience. Therefore, this trainer deserses what he got.
20:35 July 1, 2010 by Injury lawyers
Here you will find best solutions for your tiger/lions/pumas problems.
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