A lion attacked its trainer during a circus performance in the city of Tanta, in the Nile delta, late on Thursday. A video of the incident went viral on social media on Friday.
In the video clip, renowned lion trainer and circus owner Faten El-Helw is waving to her audience at the Egyptian-European Circus, when one of her lions suddenly springs on her. “Bushart Kheir”, a popular nationalist song associated with the 2013 presidential elections, is playing in the background.
At the end of the video, a man accompanies her off stage. She is walking.
Other trainers and circus security guards saved her, before she was transferred to hospital, where her condition is currently stable, according to the Ahram Arabic news website.
El-Helw's late husband, lion trainer and circus owner Ibrahim El-Helw, died from his injuries after one of his lions attacked him in 2004.
El-Helw comes from a long line of lion trainers and circus owners. Mohamed Ali El-Helw founded the family’s first circus in 1889 under the Khedive Ismail. In the early 1950s, they founded another circus that was then nationalised in the 1960s.
The troupe at their latest circus, the Egyptian-European Circus, has been performing to audiences all over Egypt since the mid-1990s.
Over the years, there have been at least five reported incidents of family members being attacked by their own lions.
Most famously, prominent lion trainer Mohamed El-Helw also died, after he tried to break up a fight between two lions during mating season and one of them attacked him during a show at Egypt’s National Circus in the 1980s. After the trainer’s death, the lion then died after it started to refuse to eat, his son told local media.
Mohamed El-Helw appeared in 1973 film Looking for a Scandal, alongside Adel Iman and Samir Sabry.