In a terrifying incident, a circus trainer was attacked by a tiger during a live show in the Italian province of Lecce on Thursday.

The circus trainer, identified as 31-year-old Ivan Orfei, received serious but not life-threatening injuries in the attack. The incident came to light after several clips from the incident went viral on the internet. The video shows the circus trainer focusing on one tiger when the second one pounced on him and dragged him by the leg.

The wild cat then goes on to bite the trainer's neck and leg as the latter struggles to free himself. His assistant then comes to his rescue and scares the tiger away with a table. Meanwhile, the audience could be heard screaming in the background.

Orfei received severe injuries to his neck, leg, and arm. He is undergoing treatment at the Vito Fazzi hospital in Lecce. Meanwhile, the tiger has been placed in isolation and is undergoing veterinary tests.

"Ivan, a highly skilled professional trainer, was hit by a tiger during the show and luckily suffered minor injuries, and his condition is of no concern," read a statement from the circus management, per NDTV.

"Tigers are fascinating animals and knowing how to tame them and build a trusting relationship with humans is an art that has been happening not only in the Circus world for hundreds of years. However, an accident can happen and the courage shown by people like him who carry out this job is commendable...," it added.

Tigers are apex predators and the largest cat species. They are territorial and generally solitary but social animals. They often show signs of frustration after being kept in captivity for a long period.

Several countries, including the UK, Austria, Greece, Colombia, and Singapore, have banned circuses that use wild animals, according to animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Animals used in circuses are either bred in captivity or taken from their homes. They are confined to small cages and forced to perform tricks under threat of violence for human entertainment.

Siberian tiger farm
Siberian tigers perform at a private circus on rented space at the Heilongjiang Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin, northern China Kevin Frayer/Getty Images