The performance at Kislovodsk State Circus in Russia had to be halted as trainers with poles made attempts to intervene in the battle by throwing props at the tigers and trying to separate them.
Disturbing footage of the incident showed the moment a tigress named Eru was attacked by a nine-year-old white tigress named Gina.
Eru was badly injured in Gina’s rampage but managed to climb back onto a ring stool before collapsing in front of the audience as blood poured from her gaping wounds.
Vets are now “fighting to save her life” and the distressing incident has led to calls for a ban on live animals at circuses in Russia.
Hundreds of parents and children witnessed the horrifying fight, which lasted several minutes and ended with the wounded animal’s trainers attempting to get her into a cage.
Other tigers were also present in the ring but didn’t join the fight.
Famous tiger trainer Yaroslav Zapashny, from Moscow, who was performing with his troupe on tour, apologised for the ugly scenes.
Circus experts claimed that abnormally warm weather in the south of Russia led to Gina “going into hunting mode ahead of time”.
“Today, a very fierce conflict broke out between two tigresses during my performance with predators,” said Zapashny, who is from the fifth generation of a famous circus dynasty.
“One of the tigresses attacked another one.
“To avoid terrible wounds me and my tamers started pulling them apart. Security guards behind the [safety] net got involved…They were pulled apart.”
He added: “One of the tigresses, unfortunately, has very serious wounds.
“She was loaded in a cage and taken [away]. Vets are now fighting for her life.
“I express my apologies to the audience for such an incident.
“This is the first case in my experience. Fights happen but such a fierce one was for the first time.”
The appalling big cat fight came just a day after a lion attacked another well-known circus trainer elsewhere in Russia.
The beast “clawed and sank its teeth” into Alexey Makarenko, 42, during a performance in front of children and their parents.
His wife Olga Borisova, 43, also a trainer, “saved his life” by chasing away the predator when it forced him to the floor of the circus ring in the Black Sea resort, Sochi.
The attack also led to a flood of online calls in Russia for a ban on live animals in circuses.
One person posted: “They are torturing animals.”
Another commenter said: “Ban circuses. This is a mockery and sadism!”
A third added: “Close circuses with animals. It is torture for animals.”
Irina Novozhilova, of animal rights group VITA, has long called for the prohibition of all circuses with live animals — which remain popular across Russia.
“No circus conditions will be humane for one simple reason,” she said.
“Training goes hand in hand with cruelty…Circuses are always cruel beyond limits and circuses with animals should be banned.”