Watch a Tiger Escape a Circus Act and Wreak Havoc

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: August 30, 2023
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Key Points:

  • For nearly two centuries, wild animals have been a part of circus acts. Unfortunately, they are not always treated well and live in cramped, unsanitary cages when not performing or on the road.
  • Wild animals are always wild animals, no matter how much they are trained for certain behaviors or tricks. Keepers must always be on the alert for danger.
  • In the video, a tiger proves the point about wild animals as it threatens the crowd through the cage wires and then makes an escape that results in human injuries.

Families can see a variety of acts when the traveling circus came to town. While many people don’t support the cruel acts of a circus these days, there is an endless library of videos online that showcase what you could see at these shows. 

In 2017, circus-goers in China experienced a terrifying moment as they were watching animals in a cage. Although the video is low-quality, it looks like there are monkeys and a tiger in the cage with a pair of circus performers. 

Circus Animals
Big top tent circus, Chapiteau carnival show with trained animals and strongman. Vector cirque big top tent, monkey and seal with juggling balls, a horse with rider and strong man with a barbell


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Since about 1831, when the French trainer Henri Martin was working in Germany and is presumed to have entered a cage with a tiger, wild animals have been a part of the circus. Around this time, elephants, bears, monkeys, and horses all played prominent roles in other plays that were presented in theaters and circuses.

During this 2017 performance, the audience begins to shriek as one of the tigers appears to start slashing through the spaces of the cage walls. Eventually, the circus performer checks the tiger and the large cat backs off. 

One thing humans should always be aware of is: wild animals are always wild, no matter how much they’ve been trained. The tiger quickly makes another bolt toward the side of the cage and spectators begin to flee. 

Two children were injured during the break-out and spent the following two days in the hospital. 

History of Tigers in the Circus

Circus Tiger Jumps Through Fire
A circus tiger jumps through fire even though tigers are instinctively afraid of fire.


Big cats are frequently made to live in teeny, claustrophobic cages in circuses. Lions and tigers are often denied the chance to exercise, wander, and play because circuses transport their animals from city to city in sterile cages. 

Many large cats are compelled to urinate, eat, sleep, and drink in the same location. Many only see some reprieve from their essentially constant captivity during their brief appearances, when they are exposed to public boos and whippings.

They are trained by being punished and denied food. Because no official organization oversees training sessions, circuses may quickly get away with daily mistreatment. Big cats are struck with sticks by their handlers as they are dragged by thick chains around their necks.

One of the most infamous acts you’ll see at a circus is a tiger jumping through rings of fire. Tigers have an instinctive fear of fire. However, they are made to leap through burning hoops as part of numerous circus shows. 

Handlers must consistently reprimand animals who do not cooperate in order to train tigers to perform these risky leaps. Tigers won’t engage in such antics until they have overcome their innate fear of fire and the pain and punishment that comes with it.

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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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