MOSCOW: A circus lion pounced on a four-year-old girl, ripping its claws into her face, during a show in southern Russia that was intended for young children, officials said Monday.
The girl has been hospitaliseds, said the Investigative Committee, which is probing Sunday's incident.
The incident occurred at a show in Uspenskoye village in Krasnodar region some 1,250 kilometres (775 miles) south of Moscow.
Amateur footage broadcast on television showed the animal, held on a lead by a lion tamer, pouncing on the child.
Such attacks are frequent in Russia, where acts using wild animals and poorly regulated travelling circuses are still common.
The Investigative Committee launched a probe into safety breaches at the performance and detained its director, who could face up to six years in prison.
Video footage showed only loose netting protecting the audience. Images showed the girl standing near the ring, with her back to the lioness.
Officials said the girl was taken to a children's hospital in the regional capital of Krasnodar with deep cuts on her face and other injuries.
A local official told RIA Novosti news agency that the lion did not bite, but lashed the girl with its paw.
Lion tamer and director of the Moscow Big Circus, Eduard Zapashny, criticised "criminal negligence" by the detained circus director and the "extremely unprofessional" tamer, in comments to National News Service radio station.
Russian media named the circus involved as Mondial, based in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.
During a circus show in Siberia in 2016, a leopard had broken free and bit a woman.
In 2012, a cheetah gored a seven-year-old boy in the face and neck in the Moscow region.
The same year, a tiger at a travelling zoo clawed a three-year-old boy in the head in far eastern Russia.