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A little girl was attacked by a lioness, after the animal burst through a safety net at a circus in Russia.
The four-year-old girl, named as Ksenia, survived the attack but doctors have warned her she will be left 'scarred for life'.
The lion pulled the girl into the ring and mauled her during the show, as members of the audience looked on horrified.
Valentina Pavlova, who was one of the medics who treated the girl, said: "There is a bite on her face that goes from ear to chin.
"An eyewitness said her mother had allowed the girl to get close to the safety net and to wave a banner.
"The lioness reacted to this and with its paw pulled the child inside onto the arena and sank its teeth into her head.
"The circus team pulled the lioness away and delivered the girl to the Central Republican Hospital.
"She is now in stable condition, there is no danger to her life."
Edgard Zapashny, director of Big Moscow State Circus, said the fault lies with both the circus and the girl's family.
He said: "I firmly believe that the blame lies completely with the owner and director of that travelling circus, the lioness's trainer and on the adult, who came with the child and let go of her while being in the front row."
But the shocking footage is sure to raise questions about the use of live animals - including big cats and bears - in circuses.
The issue was pulled into focus again, earlier this year when a clip of a tiger collapsing and going into convulsions after it jumped through a ring of fire was shared online.
The six-year-old female tiger, called Zena, begins to shake uncontrollably while at the circus ran by Artur and Karina Bagdasarovin Magnitogorsk, Russia. Artur can be seen pouring water over the tiger, before eventually dragging her by her tail.
The other tigers are kept at bay using whips and sticks; causing many people to accuse the pair of cruelty, but they have since defended themselves against criticism, with Karina saying: "Artur did his best to bring Zena back to her senses and he did all the right things - he touched her reflexive zones, he poured water on her.
"The main thing was to stop other animals from attacking. For them a weak animal is a target, it is an order to kill.
"If we had not stopped them, it would have ended with a bloody fight. And nobody knows who would have been alive after that."
Animal rights' charities, such as PETA, have long called for a ban on animal acts in circuses. The UK government has pledged to ban wild animals from travelling circuses in England by the year 2020, with opinion polls revealing that the majority of people back a ban.
Topics: World News
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