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TERRIBLE DEATH OF A LIONTAMER., Otago Witness, Issue 1063, 13 April 1872
TERRIBLE DEATH OF A LIONTAMER.
(Bolton Evening News.)
A series of farewell performances were being given prior to the menagerie proceeding to Bury, and an extra perforformance was announced and took place at half -past ten o'clock. Attached t j the show was a man named Thomas Maccarte, whose prof essional appellation was "Massarti, the Lion-tamer," and he at the extra performance entered the lions' den for the last time. Maccarte was a young man not more than thirty, four years old, but he had been associated with travelling exhibitions of this kind from a very early period. He had previously lost an arm when performing with Messrs Bell and Myers's circus at Liverpool. He had previously been trained by Messrs Batty as a liontamer, and having joined them for a short time, he was engaged by the late Mr Manders to succeed Maccomo. He was a very bold and adventurous man, and had been frequently cautioned respecting his rashness. The unfortunate man commenced his performances on Wednesday evening, when he was hardly in a proper condition to do so ; and, having exhibited the gorilla and the serpents, he entered the lions' den. At this time it is calculated 500 or 600 persons were present, and the five lions in the den were put through their performances with the usual success and applause. On all general occasions heated bars of iron and iron scrapers are in readiness, but on this fatal evening the matter had been neglected. The five lions were all powerful animals, and the unfortunate man, on entering the cage, noticed that a black-maned African lion — which had only so recently as Monday" last bitten his hand — appeared very restive. He consequently fixed his eyes on it, and this in some degree diverted his attention from an Asiatic lion known by the name of " Tyrant," against whom he had been cautioned only that morning to keep carefully to his instructions. It is necessary here to note that when performing lions are tamed, there is a line drawn, or what is known as " the office," in technical phraseology, by which the beasts are taught to regard that line as a limit beyond which the performer must not pass, knowing, if he does so, the consequences to be expected are most dangerous. The presumption is that this line was overstepped, and Maccarte, who was attired as a Roman gladiator, was returning liis falchion to its sheath, slipping, he fell on the floor of the den. " Tyrant " fastened on him, seizing him by the haunches, and then the African lion fastened on his armless shoulder. Maccarte immediately called upon the keepers for help, and meanwhile to fire. He then drew the short Roman blade which formed part of his costume, and commenced fighting desperately with the lion " Tyrant," thrusting the sword into its face, mouth and eyes. The crowd, panic-stricken, crowded around, and effectually prevented the approach of the men who were used to the habits of the animals. The shouts of the audience, the desperate and manful struggle of the fated man, and the smell of the blood which was streaming from Maccarte, incited the other animals, and their savage instinct was awakened. A third lion — an Abyssinian one — seized him by the ribs, and then a five-year-old lion, and an especial favourite of the lion-tamer, caught him by the head, literally scalping him, the flesh hanging down his neck. The treacherous favourite had no sooner accomplished this work than he returned quietly to his corner. The deadly struggle progressed, and Mr Birchall, who had from the first been most active, placed iron scrapers in the fire to heat them. Pistols and guns were discharged, but they, unfortunately, were only loaded with blank cartridge, and the blazing of gunpowder failed to drive the animals from their quarry. Meanwhile the irons were heated, an iron shutter to separate the animals in the cage when an opportunity offered was in readiness, and Mr Birchall and an assistant succeeded in beating off three of the animals, the fifth, having in the time scented and tasted the blood which streamed out of the carriage, added his fangs to those which had already played such havoc with the human form prostrate before them. The sliding-door was pushed in, three of the animals, being driven away with hot irons, were separated, and then the lion that had seized Maccarte by the shoulder was driven in a corner. The shutter was partially opened to drive him among the others, when a fourth infuriated beast seized' him just above the boot, and dragged him in again among them. Then the frightful work went on again for a few sickening and horrifying moments. Hot irons were now available, and the brutes being driven off, the poor and almost pulseless piece of humanity was drawn out from the place it was fated he never more should enter. He sustained sufficient sensibility to speak to his warm-headed colleagues a few faint words, praying them not to take him away
to receive medical aid, as he knew thafche was a dead man. His anxious friends carried him tenderly to the Infirmary, where, after a few moments, he breathed his last, after muttering a few incoherent sentences. As the shattered frame was borne past Mrs Manders, he faintly waved his hand, and gave her an expressive look, which conveyed the words that he was past all hope of aid. Many of the shots fired entered the bodies of the animals, and they received great injuries before they were driven off their prey. The lion Tyrant is three and a half yeara old, and had been brought up from a whelp by Mrs Manders. The animal having been a favourite, it was, during the early days of its training, allowed to run about that portion of the caravan used as a habitation, and it freely gambolled with its mistress. The sire of this animal was the one that nearly worried Maccomo some time ago. The only arm the deceased had was streaked with deep gashes from the shoulder to the hand ; the scalp was torn right back ; and from the hips to the knees, where he was seized from behind, the muscles are completely torn out. There are pieces of flesh gone from the ribs, and the bones of the pelvia — -which are the strongest in the human frame — have had pieces bitten clean out*
TERRIBLE DEATH OF A LIONTAMER., Otago Witness, Issue 1063, 13 April 1872
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