Police rushed to the circus in the port city of Alexandria after hearing shots fired, apparently aimed at scaring the wild cat to prevent him from killing his trainer.
They found Egypt's top big cat trainer, Mohammed al-Helou, on the ground with deep cuts to his face and a broken jaw.
The show was proceeding as normal with Helou wielding his whip as he has done over the years, but suddenly tiger Hilmi pounced on him.
No one knows exactly what caused the animal to snap, but there have been persistent stories in Egypt the animals were not being fed or cared for, because of governmental financial constraints.
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