5 min read

Fed-Up Circus Cat Tries Everything She Can To Escape

She's constantly forced to jump through hoops of fire.

Chaos broke out in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, this week when a frantic young puma tried to escape from the circus

A crowd had been gathering around a ticket kiosk to obtain admission to the Dovgalyuk Dynasty's upcoming performance when a family noticed the large cat lurking. 

"It was my mother and stepfather who noticed the puma," a 15-year-old named Diana told local news. "A girl was buying tickets for next performance, [and] my family was about to queue behind her when they noticed a huge cat."

Bystanders stood shocked as the puma frantically leapt on the girl's back from behind, tearing her heavy coat. (The fact that she was wearing one prevented what could have been much more serious injuries.)

When the puma heard people screaming she got scared and retreated. "The puma wasn’t too big," Diana said. "It was a young animal."

Within the hour, the puma was corralled and back in her cage. While a spokesperson for the circus insisted that the puma was not dangerous, the circus paid the victim of the attack an undisclosed sum of money.

It would seem that things could go back to business as usual — but the incident offers a glimpse of the hazards and heartbreak involved in forcing wild animals into submission for show. The puma is regularly forced to jump through flaming hoops for her portion of the performance, a stress-inducing exercise that only aggravates and scares her.

Training wild animals to perform is often a process that inevitably uses fear and pain as intimidation tactics. 

“By now it has been clearly established that wild animals in circuses are violently trained, endure months of travel each year while intensively confined in chains and cages, and are deprived of everything that is natural to them," Lisa Wathne, manager of captive wildlife protection for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), told the Dodo. "These animals do not perform willingly and no one should be surprised when they take the opportunity to escape and lash out by attacking people."

Warning: The video below is disturbing

Claire LaFrance, head of communications at Four Paws International, added that the daily living conditions of so many circus animals inevitably provoke aggression and agitation: "Private conditions in these unregulated facilities based around entertainment are almost always wholly inadequate. Circuses, especially traveling ones, offer only cramped conditions, constant changes of location, insufficient feeding schedules," she told The Dodo. "Big cats are wild animals and are not meant to be kept in tiny cages, constantly transported, forced to interact closely with humans and scared into performing unnatural behaviors."

But there's hope for animals in shows. "Around the world, the public’s increasing opposition to the use of wild animals in circuses has prompted governments — most recently in Scotland and Italy — to ban these archaic spectacles," Wathne added. 

This kind of change can't come too soon for the puma at this traveling circus in Russia. 

You can help performing animals by spreading the word to your friends and family to simply not buy tickets to these kinds of shows. You can also make a donation to animal rescue organizations like Four Paws and HSUS.