The animal, a 2-year-old tiger named Gandhi, knocked down trainer Vicenta Pages during a private show for the children – mostly kindergartners and first graders on a school trip to the Pensacola Interstate Fair, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
Video shows Gandhi claw at Pages’ leg and drag her across the ground as she tries to strike the tiger in the face, first yelling, “No, no, no!” then “David!” as Pages’ fiance and fellow trainer Dave Donnert runs into the ring to help her, whipping the large cat with a long, thin rod.
An adult can be heard instructing the children to turn around and stop watching, but the appear to ignore her.
Finally, Gandhi lets go of his trainer’s leg and retreats into his cage.
“He never bit and it was never a vicious attack. He never growled,” Donnert said, adding that he thinks Pages tripped before the incident, giving the animal the wrong impression. “He just (thought) ‘Oh it’s playing, we’re playing?’ so he grabbed her with the claws.”
Pages is recovering after undergoing surgery for cuts she suffered in the incident. Donnert has canceled the remaining tiger shows at the fair.
“Obviously the fair is concerned about the welfare of the children involved,” publicist Katie King told the paper. “It’s not something anyone wishes to see.”
Fair officials added that they don’t condone cruelty to animals.