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Warning: Headlines More Sensational Than They Appear

In August, my cat mauled a 9-year-old relative of mine, slashing the young girl’s throat and opening her jugular vein. Horrified onlookers were screaming in a fountain of blood like kids playing in the yield of an open fire hydrant during a heat wave.

OK. That was an exaggeration. It would be more accurate to say: My cousin’s 9-year-old daughter asked if she could hold my cat. I tried to dissuade her, telling her that my cat doesn’t appreciate being handled. Despite my gentle warning, the kid insisted on holding my cat — begging, it seemed, to be taught a valuable lesson.

And a lesson she was taught, as was lion “trainer” Oleksie Pinko during a “performance” in Lviv, Ukraine, a municipality known as the “City of Lions.”

From the Department of Déjà Vu — courtesy of CBS News — we are presented with the headline “Circus Lion Attack Caught on Tape” and the subhed “American Family Captures Footage in Ukraine of Trainer Being Mauled By Big Cats.”

And this, from the Daily Mail: “Escape from the jaws of death: The horrific moment circus lions mauled their tamer just feet away from terrified children.”

In my recent post Lion Doesn’t Attack Trainer, I pointed out that Jack Hanna had been quoted as saying: “If that was an attack, it would’ve been over within about five-tenths of a second.”

That quote is applicable here.

You see, Mr. Pinko was not “mauled by big cats” any more than my 9-year-old relative was mauled by my cat.

Still, we are subjected to lame, sensationalistic reporting.

“For no apparent reason,” the Daily Mail’s Daniel Bates would like us to believe, “one of the beasts began roaring and lunging before jumping on top of Oleksie Pinko.”

Really? “For no apparent reason”?

In the video provided above, CBS News’ Betty Nguyen says: “Watch as Ukrainian lion tamer Oleksie Pinko struggles to keep this lion at bay with a steel rod …”

And in his ridiculous excuse for a news story, Mr. Bates writes: “Suddenly the lion moving around reacts badly when Mr Pinko puts a stick close to its face …”

Again, Ms. Nguyen: “Circus workers quickly attempt to hose down the angry lions, separating them from their prey …”

Seriously? “Prey”?

In his Daily Telegraph story, Matthew Day writes: “… circus workers used high-pressure hoses and blows from metal bars in a desperate attempt to save Mr Pinko.”

Apparently, Mr. Pinko underwent emergency surgery and is in stable condition, which disappoints me to no end.

Perhaps when he recovers Mr. Pinko will have learned a valuable lesson. If not, I’ll invite him to my house, where he can try to keep me at bay with a metal bar and see if I “react badly.” I can assure Mr. Pinko that neither “high-pressure hoses” nor “blows from metal bars” will save him.


  1. Jess wrote:

    Honestly, the human race is stupid…

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Permalink
  2. David Brensilver wrote:

    Indeed, Jess, stupid and unevolved.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink
  3. Mark wrote:

    The story is enraging of course, but I do find it endearing that lions are also scared of spraying water. Were cats attacked by menacing streams at some point during their evolution?

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink
  4. David Brensilver wrote:


    I think lions get particularly annoyed when blasted with water from high-pressure hoses. Then again, I wouldn’t walk up to a lion and spray it with a salad mister. At any rate, I don’t think lions are scared of spraying water as much as they don’t like being sprayed with water.


    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 7:44 am | Permalink
  5. Rick Kaempfer wrote:

    I love that the trainer’s last name was Pinko. Maybe the lions were just anti-communist.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink
  6. David Brensilver wrote:


    I’ve been waiting for someone to comment on Mr. Pinko’s name. I don’t think lions practice politics. I do think they have a problem with people like Mr. Pinko, who exploit them and taunt them with metal rods and high-pressure hoses.


    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  7. dave stern wrote:

    Question: I’m allergic to cats, does that mean I can’t become a lion tamer? I think I could thrive.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 8:02 am | Permalink
  8. David Brensilver wrote:


    There are no lion “tamers.”


    Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 8:28 am | Permalink

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