10 of the Most Dangerous Circus Acts Performed Today

Big Cat Acts
The tigers and lions that perform in circuses may be trained, but they are still dangerous. STR/AFP/Getty Images

While working with circus animals is controversial stuff, there's no denying the wild popularity of acts that feature our non-human friends. And while it might seem like all the cats used in popular circus acts are trained and tamed to be perfect pupils, the reality is that working with big cats — tigers and lions, mostly — is just as dangerous as it was when Thomas MacCarte (a young trainer) was killed by a mob of five lions in front of hundreds of spectators in 1872 [source: New York Times]. We can be more certain, however, that trainers today aren't inebriated, as was rumored of MacCarte in news stories about the incident.

Unfortunately, there are more recent examples of dangerous big cat acts from circus shows that can convince most of us to beware of kitty, including the 2003 incident that took place during a Siegfried and Roy show in Las Vegas. No one is sure what caused the white tiger to attack, but Roy Horn sustained serious injuries that forced him into retirement. Horn says that he had a stroke, and the white tiger picked him up by the neck to save him [source: ET]. Still, there's no denying that working with big cats is a dangerous way to spend your days.