Spartanburg, SC Tiger Attack, Aug 1908


Romeo, a Fine Bengal, Lacerates Both Arms of Boy,

Charlotte News.

Five bloody tiger claw rents in his arms, reaching from above the elbow to the palm, was the fate of Boyleston Mills, a carnival attache, at Spartanburg late last night. Soon after his ferocious attack the tiger was brought to Charlotte.

Romeo did the sanguinary work---Romeo, caged from out of a Bengal jungle in India. The victim is an Ashville, N. C., boy, who lately went with the Johnny L. Jones Greater Exposition shows, which are now in this city. Disregarding warnings which are always given to new employes[sic], that it is dangerous to expose one's self near the tiger cage, Mills last night leaned his arm up against a bar of the cage in which stood Romeo and his mate, both beautiful specimens of the royal Bengal breed of tiger, the fiercest animal living.

"A lion will killy[sic] only when he is hungry." said Keeper Wilson to a News man today, "but a tiger will kill for the pure love of killing."

Boyleston Mills was feeding the animals of the menagerie as the shows were packing up preparatory to coming to Charlotte after their exhibition at Spartanburg. Mills carelessly, as stated, leaned an arm against the bar of the tiger cage.

Instantly the arm was in the grip of the tiger Romeo. Like a flash of lightning the spotted paw had shot through the space between the bars, and the arm of the unfortunate boy was drawn inside the cage, the tiger rending it with his great claws, the smell of blood making him angrier every moment.

The boy thrust the other hand into the cage in order to free the bleeding arm from the grip of the furious monster of the jungle. The tiger at once clutched this also and, with his great talons gripping tight into the flesh, pulled the arms far into the flesh, pulled the arms far into the cage, alternately tearing long, bloody rents in each.

The cries of the boy, and of the other attendants who saw the plight of the young man brought Capt. Curley Wilson to the spot. He tells this story of the affair:

"As soon as I heard that there was trouble about the tiger's cage I seized my pistol and ran to the spot. I thought that perhaps some of the animals had got out of the cage. As soon as I saw what was happening I ran to Romeo, pointing my pistol at him and shouted to him. He knows my voice, as I constantly perform with him in the cage, and he released his grip of the boy's arms and retired, growling, into the cage.

"But not before he had torn five great trenches in the flesh of each arm of his victim, extending from above the elbow to the fingers. The whole bottom of the cage was flowing with blood and the boy's clothing was saturated with it. We at once sent for a physician, Dr. Maddox, and he took Mills to his house and kept him there last night. We sent a man back there today to see after him and have him taken to a hospital. The accident occurred only a few moments before our train was to pull out for Charlotte.

"How big are a tiger's claws? Well, you know how a cat's claw looks? Just imagine a cat's claw magnified until it is as thick as a man's index finger. Crook that finger on your hand and then imagine what such claws could do to the human flesh."

Romeo and his mate are not in Charlotte, as the carnival in the open lots back of the South graded school opens tonight. Capt. Wilson and Romeo do stunts together in the cage. Mills' people live in Asheville.

The State, Columbia, SC 3 Aug 1908