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Thursday, January 8, 1998 Published at 05:17 GMT


Chipperfield 'critical' after mauling by tiger
image: [ Richard Chipperfield (right) with Graham in a publicity photograph ]
Richard Chipperfield (right) with Graham in a publicity photograph

Richard Chipperfield, a member of the celebrated circus dynasty, is critically ill after being mauled by a tiger he helped to rear.

He underwent surgery in a Florida hospital after the attack. A hospital spokeswoman said his condition remained critical after the surgery. His family, including his father who is based in Oxfordshire, England, is now waiting for more news of his condition.

"There has been an accident and we are waiting for the hospital to ring us with an update. Obviously we are extremely worried," Dick Chipperfield said from his home in Chipping Norton.

[ image: Graham performing the trick Richard was attempting when attacked from behind]
Graham performing the trick Richard was attempting when attacked from behind

Photographic shoot

Richard Chipperfield and his brother, Graham, were practising their act at the Times Bayfront Arena for a touring show with the Ringling Bros circus. He was attacked from behind by a four-year-old Bengal tiger called Arnie.

He approached one tiger, as if he was about to kiss it, as part of a photographic shoot. The other tiger then attacked him, biting the back of his head.

A spokeswoman, Laura Fitzgerald, said: "Arnie was a tiger that Richard had raised from infancy, so he knew him very well."

Fire extinguisher

Ms Fitzgerald said Graham and the two animal assistants, who were outside the cage, had distracted Arnie with a fire extinguisher and managed to get Richard out of the cage.

"Graham then shot the tiger. He is obviously very distraught about what happened and is waiting for news about his brother," Ms Fitzgerald said.

Mr Chipperfield began learning the circus animal training business when he was just four years old, working with three-month-old tiger cubs. His father was an animal trainer and once had the biggest cat act in Europe.


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