Egyptian lion trainer released from hospital 2 days after attack

Ahram Online , Saturday 7 Feb 2015

Lion trainer Faten El-Helw comes from a long line of lion trainers - five of whom have been attacked by their animals

An Egyptian lion trainer who was attacked by a lion during a performance was released from hospital on Saturday after a two-day stay.

Well-known lion trainer and circus owner Faten El-Helw was attacked during a circus performance in the city of Tanta in the Nile Delta on Thursday.

She sustained a hairline fracture to her pelvis when one of her lions suddenly leapt at her, as shown in a video that quickly went viral on social media sites on Friday. Al-Ahram Arabic website reported that El-Helw will not need surgery, although doctors have recommended she rest.

In the video clip, El-Helw is seen waving to her audience at the Egyptian-European Circus when one of her lions suddenly attacks her. Bushart Kheir, a popular nationalist song associated with the 2013 presidential elections, is playing in the background. 

In the video, a man hits the lion, forcing it to let El-Helw go, and helps her walk offstage. The man was later named as her assistant Ihab Ezzat.

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. In the early 1950s, the family 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. 

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