An Italian tiger tamer, Ettore Weber, 61, was mauled to death during a training session at his circus, Circo Orfei. It is Italy’s best-known circus. At the time the circus was in Triggiano, in the Puglia region of Italy.
We are told that one tiger knocked him down before the other three jumped on him and mauled him to death. The cats played with his body for about half an hour while medics looked on unable to enter the cage.
His work colleagues tried to drive the animals away but failed. Weber suffered serious injuries including severe spinal injuries.
The tigers have been impounded by the police. There is concern about what might happen to them. The Anti-Vivisection League asked that the tigers not be killed.
“[The] tigers must be saved and placed in an environment suitable for their natural needs”.
Update, the next day – from The Times
Mr Weber was one of Italy’s leading circus animal tamers. At the time of his death he was practising his act for a show. A dominant male tiger lept on him.
“He was bringing in the tigers one by one from their cage into the cage where he was working, starting with the male. He brought in the second tiger and was turning to usher in the third when the male pounced on him from behind.”
Mr Weber’s partner was watching from outside the cage. As he fell to the ground, the third and fourth tigers in the group entered the cage and circus staff could not safely get in to remove his body.
A police source said that the other tigers wanted to imitate the dominant male tiger but they’re speculating. The body had claw marks on its side. It’s possible that the dominant male tiger broke Weber’s neck when he jumped on him.
The four tigers were due to perform in a show for children.
Comment: this should be the end of circus animals in Italy. The time is past for lion and tiger tamers in travelling zoos. It’s over. It is cruel and obviously dangerous.
In the UK there has been talk about banning circus animals from a long time. On the government website, an article published 1 May 2019, states that the ‘Environment Secretary Michael Gove has today announced a new bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses’.
“Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals in the 21st-century and I am pleased that this legislation will put an end to this practice for good. It appears that the ban will take effect from January 2020 when the existing interim licensing regulations expire.” – Michael Gove
Simon Doherty, the president of the British Veterinary Association reflected the views of many others when he said:
“We are delighted to see this coming into law following a long and sustained campaign and a huge groundswell of public support. While this issue may not affect a great number of individual animals, a ban is emblematic of how we should be treating animals in the modern world.”
Italy should follow suit. The world should follow suit. The concept is passé. It sends an entirely wrong signal to the world about our relationship with animals in general. They are not there for our use and abuse or entertainment. I hope the tigers in this story are transferred to a reserve somewhere where they can live the rest of their lives in a decent environment and I don’t mean some mean spirited zoo.