I have stories about what happens when animals escape from circuses (the answer? Nothing good). The first story I heard from Jeff Kacirk's "Forgotten English" day calendar for Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013. It reads:
"On this date in 1703, 33-year-old barmaid Hannah Twynnoy was tragically mauled by a circus tiger in the northern Wiltshire town of Malmesbury. The evens that led to this freak accident remained unclear, but it seems that a large feline slipped out of its cage, broke open the door of a pub where Hannah worked–oddly, the White Lion Inn–and attacked her."
Her tombstone reads:
"In bloom of life, she's snatched from hence,
She had not room to make defence;
For Tyger fierce took Life away,
And here she lies in a bed of clay,
Until the Resurrection Day."
The second story I found on Futility Closet. In 1816, the Exeter mail coach was going past Salisbury when it met with a mishap:
"'At the moment when the coachman pulled up to deliver his bags, one of the [horse] leaders was suddenly seized by a ferocious animal. This produced great confusion and alarm; two passengers who were inside the mail got out, ran into the house, and locked themselves up in a room above stairs; the horses kicked and plunged violently, and it was with difficulty the coachman could prevent the carriage from being overturned. It was soon perceived by the coachman and guard, by the light of the lamps, that the animal which had seized the horse was a huge lioness. A large mastiff dog came up, and attacked her fiercely, on which she quitted the horse, and turned upon him. The dog fled, but was pursued and killed by the lioness within about 40 yards of the place.'
"The creature had escaped from a caravan on its way to Salisbury fair. She was hunted into a hovel under a granary, where “her howlings were heard to the distance of half a mile,” and the caravan’s owner eventually appeared and led her back to her cage. "The horse, when first attacked, fought with great spirit, and if at liberty, would probably have beaten down his antagonist with his fore feet, but in plunging he embarrassed himself in the harness. … The ferocious animal missed the throat, and the jugular vein, but the horse is so dreadfully torn he is not expected to survive.'"
Here is an illustration of the event, although I don't think the "large mastiff" was represented very accurately.
Finally, when I was in France and went to Père Lachaise Cemetery (aka, where all the famous people are buried), I found the following tombstone:
This was the grave of a lion tamer, Jean Pezon, who was eaten by his lion, Brutus. Now he can ride his murderer through eternity.
I guess the moral of the story is: don't go to England. Or France.
At first I was going to say, "Don't go to Colorado, either" because GoogleMaps captured a street shot with what appears to be an escaped tiger roaming a neighborhood in Boulder. As this post reveals, though, it was just a statue. COLORADO IS SAFE AGAIN.
On a fun (maybe) note, if you've ever wondered who would win in a fight between a lion and a tiger, the answer is: the tiger. Both animals are of roughly comparable strength but tigers are faster. Poor lions. They lose the fight to everyone. EVERYONE.