A melancholy accident occurred at Wombwell's Menagerie, in consequence of the lion Wallace, and a large tigress, escaping from the caravan at Worksworth, on Tuesday night, on the way to Newhaven fair. It appears the drivers were putting the vans into the yard of the White Lion Inn, when a carriage laden with timber came into contact with the one in which Wallace, who contended with and defeated the dogs at Warwick, and a very large tigress, were kept, and staved in the whole side of the vehicle. Every pains possible were taken to prevent the beasts obtaining their liberty, by repairing the van as well as circumstances would permit, and by closing the gates of the yard; but in the night, the beasts, being by nature restless, by some means removed one of the broken pannels, and succeeded in escaping by the back yard into the fields, where the tigress attacked a number of sheep, and killed three.
The lion, finding himself at liberty, was not idle, but falling in with some cows belonging to Mr. Wilson, killed one, and severely wounded two others. The bleating of the sheep, the lowing of the cows, and the roaring of the lion, aroused the keepers and several of the inhabitants, when instant pursuit was made by the whole body in order to kill, or if possible, to retake them. They first discovered the lion three or four fields distant, feeding on the cow which had fallen a victim to his fury. They immediately fronted him as well as their fears would admit, and several shots were fired, though contrary to the orders of the keeper, by which he was severely wounded.
The infuriated animal rushed upon a man some distance from him and before assistnace could be rendered, killed him. He then dashed into a cow-shed, where, by the well known voices of the keepers, and their able management, he was secured, and lodged in a place of safety, without further mischief. the party then went in pursuit of the tigress, which had taken another direction, and had fallen in with some persons gonig to work at the brickfields.
The animal attacked a woman with a child in her arms, and a boy about eleven years of age, all of whom were killed before assistance arrived. On the party coming up, they were horror struck at the spectacle. Every exertion was made to secure the animal, but it was not before she was so dangerously wounded, as not to be expected to recover, that that object could be effected.
The next day an inquest was held, when, after a patient investigation, a verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned; deodand, 10l. on the beasts. Mr. Wombwell, on hearing of the melancholy accident, expressed the utmost concern, ordered the funerals of the sufferers to take place at his expense, and promised to make good all damages arising from the fatal event. - Northampton Herald.
York Herald, 1st March, 1834.
There was a White Lion Inn in Wirksworth at the time, on Coldwell Street. Newhaven is about ten miles away.