The Most Brutal Animal Attacks on Humans We’ve Ever Heard Of

Even those who interact with animals regularly can have potentially deadly encounters. But there are situations when animals have saved humans. From Steve Irwin (page 7) to Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy (page 3), trainers and civilians alike have experienced devastating encounters with animals. Discover the most brutal animal attacks on humans, ahead.


A one-day old baby Asiatic elephant walking next to his mother

Elephant | ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images

During a religious festival in India, an elephant carrying four people became enraged and knocked the riders off his back. The elephant killed his trainer and injured many others, according to The Sun. Other “man-eaters” exist in India in the form of tigers.

Hint: Thousands of people watched a woman die.

Killer whale

Killer Whale That Killed Its Trainer Returns To Show At SeaWorld

Killer whale | Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: A killer whale’s teeth can grow up to four inches long, according to Live Science.

In 2010, Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, died during a daily event called Dining With Shamu while visitors watched, according to the Daily News. While working with the killer whale, Tilikum, Brancheau somehow — witness accounts were unclear — ended up in the whale’s mouth. He proceeded to drag her underwater to her death. Tilikum and Brancheau became part of the documentary film, Blackfish, about the inhumane treatment of whales in captivity.

Hint: One man still believes an animal tried to save his life.

White tiger

View of two white Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris) cubs, born twenty days ago at San Jorge zoo in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on November 28 , 2017.

White tiger | Herika Martinez/AFP/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Siegfried and Roy earned more money — $57 million a year at the show’s peak — than any other Vegas act, according to ABC.

In 2003, during a live performance of Siegfried & Roy, Mantecore, a white tiger, and member of the act, took Roy Horn by the neck and dragged him offstage, according to ABC. Mantecore punctured an artery in Horn’s neck, causing massive blood loss and a stroke. Today, Horn is partially paralyzed. But he believes Mantecore sensed he was experiencing a mini-stroke. “I will forever believe it was his concern for my safety and well-being that caused him to act as he did on that night long ago,” Horn said in a statement.

Hint: This animal drank wine from a glass and could use a remote.


Young Chimpanzee

Chimpanze | GlobalP/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Chimps communicate with facial expressions, gestures, and sounds, according to National Geographic.

Travis, a chimpanzee who appeared in commercials for Old Navy and Coke, attacked his keeper’s friend, Charla Nash, according to CNN. The attack left Nash without her eyes, nose, face, and hands, according to Time. Travis was shot by police during the attack.

Hint: This man lived among grizzly bears.

Grizzly bear

Grizzly bears at Palm Beach Zoo

Bear | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In October 2003, Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, were killed and partially eaten by grizzly bears at Katmai National Park in Alaska, according to Time. Treadwell was “known for approaching, even touching, bears in the wild,” according to The Telegraph. The two were attacked at their campsite. Treadwell’s experience of living among grizzly bears was later highlighted in the documentary, Grizzly Man.

Hint: A trip to the zoo went sour.

Siberian tiger

Siberian tiger

Tiger | wrangel/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Siberian tigers primarily live in the birch forests of Russia, according to National Geographic.

On Christmas Day in 2007, Tatiana, a Siberian tiger at the San Francisco Zoo, escaped her grotto and mauled 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. to death, according to The Mercury News. Two men were also injured. The attack ended when police shot Tatiana.

Hint: A TV personality died on camera.



Stingray | Yann-HUBERT/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Dentists in Greek times used the venom from a stingray’s spine as an anesthetic, according to National Geographic.

Nicknamed “The Crocodile Hunter,” Steve Irwin, known for doing risky stunts with animals, died while filming a documentary, according to The Telegraph. While filming an eight-foot-wide stingray, the animal stung Irwin hundreds of times, Justin Lyons, the camera operator who witnessed Irwin’s death, said. The barb “went through his chest like a hot knife through butter,” Lyons said. “He had a two-inch-wide injury over his heart with blood and fluid coming out of it.”

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Read more: These Are the Most Surprising Animals to Serve in the U.S. Military and Law Enforcement