The circus has historically been a dangerous place. I’m sure this is mostly because it attracts crazy and danaged people, but partly because audiences expect impressive acts. From a white tiger attacking it’s trainer, to three people dying from falling off of a tightrope. This is a list of the 5 most dangerous circus acts gone wrong.

5: Roy Horn, and the white tiger attack:


Roy Horn was a famous lion tamer, who worked on one of the most successful shows in Las Vegas. His lion was extremely well trained, and shows always went perfectly. One day Roy suddenly suffered a seizure, and started convulsing. This caused the lion to panic, and attack his trainer. Amazingly Roy survived this terrible incident, and so did the tiger, which is strange because they normally get executed for attacking their trainers. Amazingly it survived. It’s dead now though. Old age. The tiger survived because Horn had a very close relationship with the tiger. One time he even saved the tigers life by giving it mouth to mouth resuscitation. “Farewell my friend,” Horn wrote.” “know that you’re image is forever burned into my heart.” Although it appears the tiger attacked him, Horn claims it was simply treating him as it would a tiger cub. It’s possible the tiger was actually trying to protect Horn the only way it knew how.

4) Dessi Espana:


Espana came from a family of circus performers. She was extremely skilled, and even worked without a net. Unfortunately the more impressive the feat, the higher the risk when it comes to circus performances. Dessi would dangle on scarves thirty feat above the air, being held up by nothing but her grip. Dessi was a great performer, and it was never her grip that failed her, but the scarf itself as it disconnected from the ceiling, and she plummeted onto the concrete. She died in the hospital later that night from injuries.

3: Hair hanging trick, ends in disaster:

A trick done recently where several people hang from the ceiling on a parachute shaped material held up by a wire. Each of the acrobats were hanging of the mechanism by nothing but their hair. Again the acrobats performed the trick properly but the mechanism itself couldn’t take the weight, and dropped them to the floor. After falling 40 feet to the hard ground, with no net, no safety gear at all, it’s a miracle they all survived. Another unlucky member of the circus was simply standing underneath them, when they fell down, and trampled him. Nine performers in total where injured, and put into critical conditions, fortunately they were not in life threatening situations once they reached the hospital. Another similar incident happened not long after this trick went wrong. When a single woman was being held up by a man gripping her ponytail, when it seems that the woman’s hair was literally ripped off of her head, and she flew into the ground, suffering spinal injuries.

2: The world’s first Human Cannonball:

Her name was Rossa Matilda, and her rise to fame began in 1877. She was the first to ever attempt the human cannonball, and performed it successfully multiple times. Unfortunately the trick requires the cannon to be lined up perfectly with the net to work. Having the wrong calculations could lead to certain death. Not only that, but if the performer isn’t positioned correctly, or the net isn’t set up properly, this can lead to a quick death as well. These possibilities make it one of the most dangerous circus tricks in the world. During Rossa’s final shot the calculations were wrong, and she missed the net, ending her life. Even so people still perform the human cannonball to this day, and have even invented the double human cannonball.

1: The Flying Wallendas:


The Flying Wallendas were a family of seven who invented the circus act known as the seven person chair pyramid. Performing this act required seven people to balance on top of each other, the person at the top of the pyramid would sit in a chair, while the one at the bottom tread cautiously over a tight rope. While performing the act, one of the performers, stepped wrongly, causing them all to fall to ground, killing two, paralysing one, and scarring the rest for life. This didn’t stop the wallandas performing though, but they didn’t seem to get any better as two other members of the family died during acts as well.

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