WOMAN TRAINER TORN BY LEOPARD
Clayton, a large leopard, not long from
the jungle, struck down his trainer, Mrs.Pauline Russelle, early yesterday morning,
and before the beast could be driven
off Mrs. Russelle's face and head were
covered with wounds, and she was taken
to Bellevue Hospital near to death.
The attack occurred in a loft over Huber's
Museum, in East Fourteenth Street,
where Mrs. Russelle had quartered a
troupe of five leopards which she recently
purchased from an animal dealer in Pennsylvania with the Intention of training
them to perform in circuses and museums
in the East. Clayton, the largest of the
five, had been showing signs of viciousness. About two weeks ago, he attacked his trainer, and she escaped then only after Clayton had torn several ugly
gashes in her right arm. Mrs. Russelle was warned after that by her friends to
get rid of Clayton, but she laughed at
Mrs. Russelle, who i s about 35-years old
and a widow, has been living with her
friend, Mrs. Grace Madill, also an animal
trainer, at 208 East Twelfth Street. A
few days ago she and Mrs. Madill made
a heavy jacket covered with gold braid,
which Mrs. Russelle thought might protect the upper part of her body in case
one of the leopards attacked her. This
jacket she donned yesterday morning for
the first time, and while Mrs. Madill was
asleep, left the house about 5 o'clock and
went to the loft, intending to spend the
rest of the morning training three of her
charges , Clayton, Roy, and Arnold, which
were imprisoned in a large double cage
near the windows in the rear of the loft.
Harry Hendrickson, who has been assisting Mrs. Russelle in training the leopards,
had already arrived at the loft and
had given the animals their breakfast.
The three beasts in the double cage were
taking their customary after-breakfast
nap when Mrs. Russelle, in her new jacket
and with a whip in her hand, entered the
cage. At the first crack of the whip all
three animals jumped to their feet, and
Roy and Arnold sprang to their places
on a heavy wooden shelf which runs
across one end of the cage. One of the
tricks Mrs. Russelle had been teaching
Claytoir to perform was to jump through
a n iron hoop, which the trainer would
hold in one hand about four feet above
the floor. Sometimes, the leopard would
balk at this, but usually a lash from the
whip would spur him on.
In these performances, Roy and Arnold
would wait patiently on their perch.
Neither of these had ever shown signs
of viciousness, and Mrs. Russelle could
turn her back on them with impunity.
Yesterday, when she held up the hoop
Clayton growled and sulked in a corner
of the cage, glaring angrily at the trainer.
Several times Mrs. Russelle cracked her
whip, but the beast did not move. Anticipating trouble, Mrs. Russelle backed
away, kicked open a small trapdoor leading to another compartment of the cage, and ordered Roy and Arnold to enter there. This they did, and Clayton started
to follow, still growling angrily and showing his teeth.
"I guess you had better get the fork
and hold it ready," said Mrs. Russelle to
Hendrickson, who stood j u s t outside the
cage looking on. This fork is a long bar
of iron, at the end of which are several
sharp prongs. It is used by trainers to
subdue unruly beasts. Hendrickson did
a s he was told, and stood ready for an
"Up! Clayton, up!" said Mrs. Russelle.
and pointed to the shelf with her whip.
With another growl, Clayton bounded to
the shelf and sat there. Mrs. Russelle
held aloft her iron hoop and cracked her
whip as a signal for Clayton to jump.
The leopard hesitated, a moment. Then,
his sinewy body shot through the air,
but not at the hoop. His right forepaw
struck Mrs. Russelle on the head and she
was borne to the floor. In an instant, the
animal was upon her, both his front paws
with their deadly claws grasping her head
and his teeth sunk in the back of her
neck. Mrs. Russelle screamed as she fell,
then tried hard to turn so that she could
f i g h t the beast.
Even before she w a s borne to the floor,
Hendrickson's revolver was out and he
began firing blank cartridges into the face
of the leopard. At other times, a revolver
shot would make Clayton cower in the
furthest corner of his cage. But this
time, they proved of no avail. Five shots
were fired, but still the animal held on.
He had just rolled Mrs. Russelle over
and was chewing her face when Hendrickson dropped the revolver and brought
the iron fork down with all his force
on Clayton's head. This seemed to stun
the least for an instant.
Hendrickson dropped the fork and
grabbed Clayton by the tail, which was
close to the bars. He tugged with all
his might to drag the beast away, and
shouted for assistance. But the sound
of his voice was lost in the roars of the
leopards and the other animals in the loft.
Just in front of the leopard's cage was
a hyena and in another near-by, a panther,
both of which, excited almost to
madness by the scene in the leopard's
cage, were hurling themselves against the
bars trying to get out.
But the revolver shots had been heard
by the museum employees downstairs, and several of them, accompanied by Policeman William Dwyer, soon arrived
in the loft. Dwyer stuck his revolver
through the bars and was about to shoot
when Clayton, with an angry growl
broke away from Hendrickson and sprang
to the middle of the cage. They quickly
dragged Mrs. Russelle to the cage door,
opened it, and she dropped unconscious
to the loft floor, while Clayton hurled
himself against the front of the cage
struggling to get at those outside.
All this time, R o y and Arnold had been
dashing about in the other apartment, of
the cage, hurling themselves against the
bars, trying to break out. In their frenzy
they seemed to forget the wooden trap,
through which they could rave reached
the compartment in which Clayton and
his trainer were struggling. Just after
the rescue, Policeman Dwyer ventured, too
near and Arnold made a vicious grab at
him. The leopard's claws ripped Dwyer's
sleeve from shoulder to wrist, but did not
break the flesh.
Mr. Jarul, the manager of the museum,
was among those alerted to the sound of Hendrickson's revolver. He and others carried the injured woman
downstairs and Bellevue was notified.
Mrs. Russelle could not speak when she
reached the hospital and had lost much
blood. There is danger of blood poisoning, even if she survives the first shock and loss of blood.
Jan. 10, 1910 edition of "The New York Times"