One of the world's most famous tiger tamers has been mauled to death by his four big cats as he prepared for a show at a circus in Italy.
Ettore Weber, 61, was mauled to death around 7.30pm on Thursday night at the Circo Orfei - Italy's best-known circus - in the countryside near Bari.
Weber was rehearsing for his act when one of the tigers knocked him down before the other three pounced on him and mauled him to death.
The tigers then 'played' with his body for around 30 minutes in front of stunned medics who were unable to do anything to help, La Gazzetta del Mezzogiornoreported.
Weber's fellow performers also tried to drive the animals away but to no avail, according to Corriere.
Police were called and have launched an investigation to try and recreate the events leading up to the attack, and the attack itself.
Medics say that Weber suffered a series of serious injuries, including severe trauma to the spine.
It is not clear what will become of the tigers now that their trainer is dead.
The attack happened around an hour before Thursday's show was due to take place.
Circo Orfei had arrived in Bari on June 15 and was due to stay until July 14. It is unclear whether that run will continue.
The Daily Mail