A Bengal tiger mauled its American trainer on Saturday in front of circus audience made up of children and adults. Reports identified the victim as Alexander Crispin Suarez, 35, who suffered bites on the neck and subsequently died in a hospital.
The gruesome incident happened during the evening performance of the Hermanos Suarez Circus in the town of Sonora, Etchojoa, Mexico.
An amateur video of the incident, now going viral in YouTube, showed Mr Suarez jogging in circles around the tiger and another large cat in an attempt to make the two animals turn in circles on a large dais.
On the trainer's second turn, the tiger reached out and grabbed Mr Suarez, pulled him to the ground and mauled him. The other circus workers rushed to the trainer's assistance by hitting the tiger with a metal stand to drive the animal away.
Mr Suarez died on Tuesday at a hospital because of loss of blood.
The Office of Environmental Protection inspected the circus as a result of the incident and confirmed it has valid permits to keep and display 11 Bengal tigers and other exotic animals.
The tiger is believed to have been killed by one of the circus workers during the struggle to save Mr Suarez.
It is not the first incident involving supposedly trained animals attacking their trainers. In October 2003, Roy Horn of the Siegfried & Roy Las Vegas show was attached by Montecore, a seven-year-old white tiger, during one of the pair's performances. Mr Horn, after weeks of being in critical condition, eventually recovered from massive blood loss and a stroke caused by the tiger attack.
In September 2010, a 400-pound male lion attacked a male trainer at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino by biting the man's leg. Fortunately, the lion's victim needed only several stitches on the leg.
The Web site Starbreezes.com identified three factors behind why some circus animals attack their trainers.
The first is the unnatural living conditions the non-human circus performers have to endure even if they were meant to live in the wild. They often live and travel in cramped cages smaller than their natural habitats, have to eat, sleep and defecate in the same cage and even chained in the case of elephants which are also exposed to different climatic conditions where the circus is held.
Second is the often extreme methods used by some trainers to get the animals to obey, including using bull hooks on tender body parts, muzzling, drugging and hitting with electric shocks, whips, baseball bats and pipes.
Third is a combination of the two factors leads to mental stress which lead the animals to attack humans or escape.
The Web site pointed out that since 1990, attacks by captive big cats have caused 46 human deaths and the culling of 70 big cats, attacks by bears caused 13 human deaths and 26 bear deaths, captive primate attacks caused 2 human deaths, 130 human injuries and killing of 150 primates, and attacks by captive elephants resulted to 57 people killed and 120 injured.