We can all agree that acrobats, from the trapeze artists to the tight rope walkers, are pretty crazy, right? It’s like NASCAR; you’re not there for the act itself but to hopefully see an accident. Unless, of course, you’re Philippe Petit, who traversed the World Trade Center in the mid-seventies, and Zhang Xiaoyan, who walked across a cage housing six hungry Siberian tigers.
Watching the former fall would be devastating. The mess would be awful, and we wouldn’t have the fabulous documentary Man on Wire; the latter, however, would be worse, if only for the fact that she was three years old at the time of her stunt.
Part of the Jiangxi Elite Children Arts Troupe, little Xiayon walked across a wire without the benefit of a balancing pole at the Changzhou Yancheng Zoo in Jiangsu province, much to the chagrin of the horrified onlookers. Clearly they didn’t feel the safety wire around her waist could protect her from the six hungry tigers below.
Naturally the zoo is getting a lot of flack for hosting this, despite the troupe having met all safety requirements. Xiaoyan came dangerously close to negating this, however, as a gust of wind almost knocked her over at the onset of her trip across the wire. People in the audience apparently screamed, while the tigers below no doubt were angered at the near miss.
The troupe, which also features adults traversing the wire with a bicycle and a ladder, apparently has no regrets, and is in fact proud of their little Xiaoyan. Zhang Shenwen, who serves as director for the group of acrobats, stated that the young girl had been performing since the age of one, making her the world’s youngest high wire walker.
If her luck doesn’t hold, pretty soon she’ll be the world’s youngest Darwin Award recipient.