- Title: Lion tamer doesn't let loss of legs keep him out of circus ring
- Date: 9th October 2019
- Summary: SMOLYANETS PERFORMING AT SHOW AUDIENCE APPLAUDING
- Embargoed: 23rd October 2019 09:51
- Keywords: Circus Lion tamer Donetsk circus circus show animal tamer Russia circus Ukraine circus
- Location: DONETSK, UKRAINE
- City: DONETSK, UKRAINE
- Country: Ukraine
- Topics: Human Interest / Brights / Odd News,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA003B0DJZND
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Russian animal tamer, Vitaly Smolyanets, lost both his legs in a car accident several years ago, but it did not stop him from running his animal show which is now performing at a circus in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine.
On a February night in 2015, Smolyanets was trying to help the occupants of a crashed vehicle when he himself was hit by an oncoming truck.
"There was only one percent chance of survival, only a miracle could save me, so to speak. But the doctors of course did everything they could," he says, adding that his two legs were amputated and left him with little desire to live.
Smolyanets, however, said he had received overwhelming support from his colleagues, including a fund-raising campaign by the Russian Circus Association which bought him prosthetic legs. This allowed Smolyanets to walk eight months later and return to the stage less than one year after the accident.
In an interview with a local newspaper, Smolyanets said that coming back to the circus was tough and he struggled to maintain balance while standing on prosthetic legs, having to give signs to his pride during the show with nods and looks. But the lions did not let their tamer down. 'They love me the way I am', Smolyanets was quoted.
At the show in the Donetsk circus, Smolyanets' roaring company danced on hind paws, jumped through rings of fire and drew cheers from the audience.
Yulia Mikhailova, who had lost her leg and arm under mortar fire in Donetsk in 2015, came to watch the circus performance on Saturday (October 5) and said Smolyanets acts as a powerful example of fortitude for her and everyone else.
"Such people do not give up, - she said, - they are strong in spirit and they show a very strong example to the younger generations, to the growing generation, children, adults and just everyone that you should never give up, you need to move forward. Everything is possible in this life, everything is possible."
(Production: Pavel Klimov, Anastasia Adasheva, Anton Derdenev)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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