A five-year-old Qatari boy is in the hospital after being attacked by a baby leopard near Hyatt Plaza, the general manager there has confirmed to Doha News.
The boy, who had been attending the Royal Circus with his mother last night, was apparently pounced upon by the cub after the show, when he was posing with it to get his photo taken, Firoz Moideen said. He continued:
“We regret the incident – it’s completely unacceptable to us what happened. What we have been informed that the boy is in stable condition, not in any kind of danger, thank God, and the investigation is going on.”
The circus, which has been running since Oct. 15, has now been canceled by Hyatt Plaza, and its organizers, who are not affiliated with the mall, are under investigation, Moideen said.
Sajid Bulbul, a 32-year-old British expat who had attended the circus with his family last night, was among the men who intervened to save the boy from the leopard. Speaking to Doha News, he said the incident happened after the early evening show finished around 6:15pm.
As people exited the performance, many flocked to the lobby, where some people gathered around a baby leopard to pay to have their photos taken with it. Bulbul said he was walking over to the area with his daughter, when he heard screams and saw that the cub had jumped on top of a little boy and was holding his neck in its jaws. He continued:
“In a spur of the moment I ran into the enclosure as did 2/3 other men and just grabbed hold of the leopard. I grabbed it by its fur just behind its head and pulled hard and the other men grabbed whatever they could and we pulled and the trainer also tried to move it away, but it wouldn’t let go so we started punching and hitting it until it did.
The boy’s mother and trainer quickly took the boy away who was bleeding from his neck and we ran back before the leopard could harm us.”
After that, the trainer put pressure on the boy’s wound until the ambulance quickly arrived and took him away, still conscious. “Everyone there was terrified and shocked,” Bulbul added.
Circus animal criticism
Though the attack took place outside of the circus itself, where the animals are kept in a caged ring to prevent them from lashing out at the audience, critics have long lobbied against the use of animals in such performances, calling the practice inhumane and dangerous.
According to Last Chance for Animals, a US-based advocacy group:
“Wild animals behave instinctively and unpredictably. In more than 35 dangerous incidents since 2000, circus animals have run amok through streets, crashed into buildings, attacked members of the public, and killed and injured handlers.”
The Qatari partner of the organizer, Global Entertainment, could not immediately be reached for comment.