The Las Vegas MGM Resort's lion exhibit roars with excitement, but a video that recently surfaced on the Internet shows a moment of terror when one of the 400-pound lions turned on its trainer.
"It looked somewhat like a lunge," said witness Drew Ellis, who was honeymooning in Las Vegas last week and captured the attack. "He was definitely up on his back feet."
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The video shows the lion chomping down on one of the trainer's legs. Then a second trainer rushes the lion and, with the apparent help of a lioness, they manage to force the attacking animal off. Although the area was soundproof, witnesses said, the trainer's agony was obvious.
"Just the look on the guy's face when it's all going down," Ellis said. "You could tell he's in major pain and I am sure he was screaming."
But it's likely the lion was just playing too roughly, according to Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio and wild animal expert.
"I looked at [the video] about 10 times," Hanna told "Good Morning America" today. "If that was an attack, it would've been over with in about five-tenths of a second."
A hotel representative told "Good Morning America" the trainer is now recovering and is anxious to get back to work. The animals are back on exhibit inside the resort.
It's hardly the first time a potentially deadly animal has turned on its trainer.
Bears, Killer Whales Have Turned on Trainers
The attack took place not far from the home of the infamous white tiger Montecore, who in 2003 nearly took the life of Roy Horn in a performance of Siegfried and Roy. Montecore now lives in the Mirage's Secret Garden Zoo.
In February, the 22-foot killer whale Tilly took the life of expert trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld. In 2008, a 700-pound bear, which had appeared in a movie with Will Ferrell, killed his real-life trainer.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is charged with investigating every incident and is now trying to determine what may have provoked the lion attack in Las Vegas.