Horrifying footage shows the moment when a circus big cat tamer was attacked by a tiger during a live show.
The shocking footage shows spectators gasping in horror as the tiger sank its razor-sharp teeth into the keeper, Ivan Orfei at the show in Lecce, Italy on December 29.
Orfei, 31, was concentrating on one of the other animals that were sitting on top of a giant metal ring during the performance.
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While he was distracted, the second big cat pounced on him and clamped its jaws around his left leg.
The trainer was heard shrieking as he struggled to get free.
But the tiger changed tactics and jumped on his back to try and bite his neck, which is the way the natural predator would usually finish off its live prey during a hunt.
Ivan only managed to get free when his show assistant beat the animal with a prop, which distracted the beast long enough for him to limp away.
He was immediately rushed to the emergency department of Vito Fazzi Hospital following the attack and received treatment for the deep wounds he sustained to his neck and leg.
In a statement posted on Facebook by circus management said: "Ours is a world made of great love for animals, as Ivan himself demonstrates to the public in his shows.
"Tigers are fascinating animals and knowing how to tame and establish them a relationship of trust with man is an art that has been taking place for hundreds of years not only in the circus world.
"However, accidents can happen and the courage shown by those like him who carry out this profession is commendable.
"Ivan, a very talented professional trainer, was hit by a tiger during the show and fortunately suffered minor injuries and his condition is not a cause for concern."
The bloke remains in hospital with injuries that are said to be serious but non-life-threatening.
An investigation into the incident is now underway, local media has reported.
It has also been confirmed that the tiger will be seen by a vet.
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