A circus employee responsible for the training of a baby leopard that attacked a young boy, leaving him seriously injured, has been sentenced to three months in prison by a Doha criminal court, the Peninsula reports.
In December last year, a female trainer at the Royal Circus, located next to Hyatt Plaza’s food court, allowed a Qatari mother and her six-year-old child to enter a fenced-off enclosure, and charged a fee to take a photograph with the animal.
However, when the mother and son moved closer to the leopard to take a photo on a mobile phone, the animal apparently pounced on the boy, holding his neck in its jaws, until three men wrestled the cub off of him.
The boy was given first aid and transferred by ambulance to Hamad Hospital, where he underwent surgery for his injuries, which were not life threatening.
The boy’s mother has since told the media that she declined compensation from the circus, preferring to pursue justice in court instead.
The criminal court also decided to fine the circus organizers, Global Entertainment, a total of QR200,000.
It also imposed a further fine of QR2,000, but media reports differ on whether this was for the circus manager, or a security guard.
The court heard that the Qatar Tourism Authority, which issued the license for the circus show, had not given permission for photographs to be taken with animals at the show. As a result, the company was held responsible for breaching health and safety regulations.
Mohamed Al Shorouqi, general manager of Global Entertainment, which organized the circus, was arrested shortly after the attack, but released after a short period.
The general manager of Hyatt Plaza was also arrested and spent time in a local jail, but he was later released without charge. The mall had a contract with the circus because it was based on mall property, but officials has told Doha News that it was not directly involved with the show itself.
The circus was canceled after the attack, but the incident has raised concerns among residents about how safe such shows are in Qatar.