Lyubov Yakovleva, 53, suffered arm injuries protecting her godson, Timofey. Siberian Times

A Russian woman was mauled protecting her four-year-old godson from a leopard that leapt over a circus enclosure and attacked them.

The leopard, named 'Loki', had moments before been taken from the enclosure in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk after displaying aggressive behaviour.

When it returned it broke free from its trainer and rushed at 53-year-old Lyubov Yakovleva and her godson, Timofey (Tim) Uskova.

"Suddenly he jumped in front of my nose, I only had time to cover Tim," Lyubov told the Siberian Times.

"The beast grabbed me with its teeth, and began to tear me up. I shrinked. What happened next, I don't remember except like everyone else we rushed for the door."

'Loki' was led from the enclosure moments before the attack after appearing 'aggressive' Danil Kolosov/Siberian Times

Circus staff pulled the leopard away from the woman and boy, and were also injured. A police car took Yakovleva to hospital, where she was treated for serious arm injuries.

The boy's mother, Oksana, told the publication: "Doctors put in 10 stitches and her tendon was bitten all the way through, not to mention the stress and consequences in the future...there was no safety, no fencing. We sat in the sixth row, but the animal was there in three seconds. This fear and horror still is in my eyes."

Yakoleva said she planned to sue the circus, which she alleged had not put up sufficient safety barriers.

She added: "I do not blame the animal – no way. I blame only the organisers. I was worried about the leopard, and asked the circus staff, how it is. They said all is OK, it is in cage now."