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© RIA Novosti. Alexsey Druginyn

Leopard savages little girl at Russian circus

by Alyona Topolyanskaya at 21/06/2010 15:45


A six-year-old girl has undergone surgery to repair the damage made by a leopard’s paw as she took the stage at a traveling circus in Klin, just to the north of Moscow.

According to internet sources, young Tamara Shaginyan was rushing to the stage to make her entrance and startled the big cat, who was leaving the ring.

The startled animal immediately leapt at the child, going for her throat

Circus director Alexander Morygin said Tamara broke a basic safety rule by going through the curtains just as Lily the Leopard was coming off after her part in the show.

“All of our employees know not to do that,” said Morygin.  He explained that because of the speed at which the girl was traveling, the leopard most likely saw the child as a threat, Interfax reported.


Out of danger

While doctors say her life is no longer in danger, they are sending the child to be treated in Moscow, fearing that an infection is could occur.

She suffered bites to her jaw that damaged the artery, as well as a lacerated wound to the back of her head, and lost over 1.5 litres of blood during the ordeal.  

Tamara regained consciousness after the surgery and even told the doctors what had happened at the time of the attack.

Her mother, Elena Balashova, 30, arrived at the hospital late Friday evening, and was allowed to stay by her bedside in the intensive care unit.


Questions over child performers

But it is unclear whether her mother had pushed the girl into the spotlight so she could start earning money for her family, as Lifenews.ru alleged. Other sources said her mother merely allowed the girl to do an internship for kids.

Tamara Shaginyan has been studying at a circus school near her home in Kaluga since she was 4, along with her older sister.

After the incident, Russia's children's rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov called for all traveling circuses to be checked, to make sure that they are carrying out all their safety measures, reports RIA Novosti.  “I’m gathering all the information, on how this incident occurred,” he said.

He also urged a review of the tradition of children performing at traveling circuses.  Astakhov says that it should be done with the permission of children’s welfare services.


Leopard let-off

Lily, who is the same age as her six-year-old victim, was described by circus employees as “calm”.

There are no plans to have the animal put down, according to local police. They said she behaved like a normal predator.


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