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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


Nov. 11th, 2006 03:02 am (UTC)
Bad Things happen in Mena.
Nov. 11th, 2006 03:14 am (UTC)
The next night, two of their trucks turned over while traveling. Of the nine animals that escaped, two were recaptured, two were killed, and they were unable to find the remaining five which included a polar bear.

The first time I saw the polar bear on Lost I yelled, "There's the Campas' polar bear!".
Nov. 11th, 2006 05:31 pm (UTC)
I am a horrible bitch, but this comment, after such a tragic story, made me laugh out loud. You're a sick puppy.

Nov. 12th, 2006 08:10 am (UTC)
This is the sort of thing my paternal family takes entirely in stride.

One of my grandmother's sisters was thought to be stillborn, so they put the 'dead' baby outside with the trash. When she was heard mewling, they quickly retrieved her, but she's never played with a full deck. I enjoyed telling her bizarre stories because she'd just nod and reply with random things about relatives.


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Melissa, starry-eyed soy-lovin' Expatriated Zulu

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