Daredevil Dick had lucky escape after being mauled by a lion

"Daredevil" Dick Foster, the Grantham-born lion tamer.
"Daredevil" Dick Foster, the Grantham-born lion tamer.
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Grantham-born lion-tamer “Daredevil” Dick Foster featured in the Journal in the 1930s after being attacked while inside a lion cage.

Dick Foster was a remarkable man who, at the time of the attack, was working as the superintendent at Belfast Zoo.

He is pictured with one of the many exotic animals he came into contact with, in this case, a leopard.

The Journal reported he had gone into the cage to rescue two cubs he feared were about to be eaten by their parents, Wallace and Victoria.

After what was described as a desperate battle, the King’s School old boy told the Journal: “I picked up the cubs and backed towards the door but the mother bounded after me.

“She clawed my arm and I thought my hour had come.”

Mr Foster escaped with wounds to his arms and legs. However, the cubs were killed by their mother.

He said: “The lions are the best of friends, just like a married couple, but they have been crazy about the cubs.”

It was not his first injury from an animal attack. He earned the nickname “Daredevil” in the circus.

He was taken on to look after elephants but his big break came when Fred Wombwell was mauled by a lion he performed with. Undeterred, Dick stepped up and took over the role.

But he was mauled himself by a lion in Southend, losing two fingers as a result.

And his bad fortunate did not end there.

In the late 1920s he joined Chapman’s Circus and, while performing with a group of black bears, was leapt upon by one and “knocked about a lot”.