Girl, 9, Killed By Circus Lion
MENA. Ark. Authorities attempted Wednesday to determine how a circus lion got loose and clawed to death a nine-year old girl in Mena. No one apparently saw the enraged animal grab little Maria de la Luz Tuesday night in the darkness outside the tent. Spectators watching a performance rushed outside upon hearing the screams of the victim, a granddaughter of performers in the Campa Brothers travelling circus. The lion, which is not full-grown, was found holding the girl in his clutches underneath a circus truck. The crowd stood helplessly until the animal trainer pried open the lion's jaws with a stick and led him back to his cage. The girl was dead before medical aid could reach her. There were conflicting reports as to whether the lion had been caged or staked outside on the abandoned airport grounds where the circus was held.
Source: The Newark Advocate, Wednesday, October 31, 1951
For those of your playing along at home, Maria Campa de la Luz was a first cousin to my grandmother, Blanca Campa [later Hall]. The lion was staked outside the cage because he had been hand-raised and considered tame; the animal trainer was the girl's father.
Battle of the Species
Man has reaped many rewards from his dominance of the animal kingdom. But animals are not his loyal followers; and he is still only slightly ahead. Last week the battle of the species was waged from Maine to Alaska.
¶ In Mena, Ark., while the Campa Bros, circus trumpeted through its one-night stand, nine-year-old Maria Campa, granddaughter of one of the circus owners, was clawed and chewed to death by a young lion considered so tame he was tied to a stake outside his cage. Next day, as the Campa circus trundled along the rain-slicked road toward Mount Ida, two trucks overturned. Nine beasts scampered into Ouachita National Forest. A pursuing posse brought down one of two escaped leopards and recaptured a tame black bear and a rhesus monkey. The other leopard prowled all night before being tracked down by a small but heroic cur named Tony, whose owner, Roiston Fair, shot the leopard, but not before it had killed Tony. Still in the forest: a polar bear, a black bear, three monkeys.
Source: Time, Monday, November 12, 1951