Circus family's double trouble

Rosa Prince
Sunday 23 October 2011 04:36

Yesterday was a bad day for the Chipperfield circus family. As one son lay critically ill in a Florida hospital after being mauled by a tiger, his brother waited to hear whether he would be in trouble with the law for shooting the beast.

Graham Chipperfield, 28, came to his brother's rescue when Arnie, a 350lb Bengal tiger, bit Richard, 24, on the back of the head. He could be now charged with breaking state laws against animal cruelty and discharging a firearm in a public building. A police spokeswoman said: "The state attorney will have to decide whether a warrant will be issued for the arrest of Graham Chipperfield."

Members of the Chipperfield family have been performing in circuses since 1684 and have a long tradition of working with lions, tigers and leopards. As the British public lost its taste for live animal shows, however, Richard and Graham moved to work in America where performing animals are still deemed acceptable.

In an interview last week, Richard said: "Tigers are dependable and elegant animals. I have fallen in love with them." Yesterday he was in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

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