from ANIMALS ARE MY LIFE
A terrible event was soon to be the subject of another cable. In his big carnivores group Richard Sawade had a young tiger which he had brought up from infancy. It was called Nik and was his great pet. It used to go round with him like a big sheep-dog. But one evening none other than this tiger attacked him and ripped up his shoulder and upper arm.
Fortunately, Sawade was able to grip a bar of the cage with the other hand, and, being a man of athletic strength beyond the ordinary, he succeeded in preventing the animal getting at his neck. His fearless assistant, Rudolf Matthies, came running up and as close as possible fired blank cartridges into the tiger's jaws, and the wooden cap of the cartridge, at that short range, hit the animal.
Indeed, some splinters also wounded Sawade in the back, but the necessary result was achieved the tiger at once began to gnaw at its own wounds, and with his wooden pole Matthies could drive the animal away.
We all held our breath. Slowly, Sawade loosened his hold on the bar. Everybody expected him to fall. But, his face contorted with pain, he now went back into the ring, drove all his animals out of the central cage, bowed rather curtly, and only then, streaming with blood, collapsed in the paddock.
Thank Heaven, medical aid was immediately at hand. The surgeons of the German hospital saved his life. For weeks he lay, terribly hurt, struggling against the blood poisoning which is so frequently a complication of carnivorous animal wounds. A lung inflammation hindered the recovery, which this brave man -- later general manager of our travelling circus -- owed solely to iron will and an iron constitution.
A carnivorous animal always remains a carnivorous animal. Whether caught fully grown or brought up from infancy on the bottle makes no difference whatsoever. Gratitude and faithfulness are virtues in our human ambit of emotions, and not to be imagined unconditionally into animals, which are in the power of other instincts.
After this accident, Rudolf Matthies took over Sawade's animal group, from which of course I removed the attacker. Matthies not only did his outstanding teacher every honour, but himself became a first-class tiger trainer, the only one, indeed, later to be awarded the German Animal Protection Medal.
-- Lorenz Hagenbeck
, 1955 *