Circus performer mauled to death by 4 tigers that 'played' with his body for 30 minutes after killing him

Circus performer mauled to death by 4 tigers that 'played' with his body for 30 minutes after killing him

One of the world's most famous tiger tamers has died following a mishap that saw him fatally mauled by four of his big cats as he prepared for one of his shows in Italy. The 61-year-old performer, Ettore Weber, was attacked and mauled to death at around 7.30 pm on Thursday, July 4, when he was getting ready to put on a show at the Circo Orfei, Italy's world-famous circus, according to the Daily Mail.

The circus had set up camp in the countryside near Bari, the capital of southern Italy's Puglia region, and Weber was rehearsing for one of his famous acts when one of his tigers reportedly knocked him down. Three other tigers then pounced on him and mauled him to death before then proceeding to "play" with his body for the next 30 minutes, with medics helplessly watching the gruesome scene unfold.

Weber's fellow performers also tried in vain to drive the tigers away, and it is still not known why the big cats attacked him or why they eventually stopped toying with the 61-year-old's body.


Medics who examined his body after his death said Weber suffered a series of serious injuries, including severe trauma to the spine. The police were called to the scene and have reportedly launched an investigation to try and recreate the events leading up to the attack, and the attack itself.

It is unclear what will happen to the four tigers now that their trainer is dead. La Repubblica reported that they had been seized and handed to Zoosafari Fasanolandia, an animal attraction and theme park in Fasano in southern Italy. There is a similar air of uncertainty around Circo Orfei after the tragedy. The circus had arrived in Bari on June 15 and was due to stay in the port city until July 14, but Weber's death has thrown a spanner in the works.

The prosecution is reportedly now trying to determine whether the tigers were kept in conditions prescribed by the law and examining all authorizations granted to the circus.


This is not the first time the circus has come under scrutiny from authorities. In 2013, two tiger cubs that were supposed to perform in Martina Franca were taken away by authorities because their transport and custody had not been authorized.

Marina Monti, the head of the circus, distanced himself from the episode and pinned the blame on the tamer who had brought the tigers at the time.

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