Do NOT look down: The heart-stopping moment a Siberian tiger leapt at an acrobat dangling from a tightrope

Do NOT look down: The heart-stopping moment a Siberian tiger leapt at an acrobat dangling from a tightrope

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 9:30 AM on 2nd April 2010

This is the terrifying moment that a Siberian tiger came close to turning a stunt into a tragedy.

The acrobat and his partner had been performing the dangerous balancing act at the zoo in China’s Jiangsu province when the agitated tiger departed from the script.

Miraculously, the pair managed to keep their balance – as did the three-year-old girl who was also walking the tightrope with just a thin safety line to save her from the big cats.

The stunt nearly turned to tragedy as a curious Siberian tiger leapt into their air and grabbed hold of the ladder hanging from the high wire.

Meanwhile, just a few feet behind them, a three-year-old girl toddles her way across the high wire.

Xiaoyan gingerly makes her way across the wire as a fellow performer balances ahead of her on a bicycle.

Horrified visitors were outraged that the girl’s life had been placed in such danger.

On her first step Xiaoyan, of the Jiangxi Elite Children Arts Troupe, was nearly blown off the wire by a strong gust of wind, arousing terrified screams from the audience.

The toddler held no balancing pole, simply using her outstretched arms to keep balance.

It took the girl more than 10 minutes to walk 50 metres, before she was plucked from the wire by a fellow performer.

Just a few feet in front of her two men performed an equally remarkable stunt, with one riding a bike on the thin wire as another hung below him on a ladder.

The men were inches away from tragedy when a curious Siberian tiger leapt into the air and grabbed hold of the ladder – nearly causing the pair to topple into the enclosure.

One visitor said: ‘If she was my child, I would never let her do anything like that no matter how talented she is.’

A zoo spokesman said they had hired a professional group to put on the routine, which met all safety requirements.

Arts troupe director Zhang Shenwen said Xiaoyan was the world’s youngest high wire walker, and had been training since she was just one.

The Siberian tigers became agitated as the acrobats performed above them.


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