Vitaly (Russian: Виталий; pronounced vit-ALLEY) is an antagonist turned major protagonist of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.
Born and raised in Circus Zaragoza, Vitaly, the macho Russian tiger, grew up to be the star performer because of his act in jumping through hoops with such grace and speed it was as if he were flying, constantly pushing how far he could go by using increasingly smaller rings to jump through.
On one performance, Vitaly went too far — He set up a ring so small it could be used as a pinkie ring and had Stefano ignite it. He lubricated himself with olive oil and attempted to jump through, only to be catastrophically burnt, with Stefano saving him via a Fire Extinguisher. His regrown fur were brittle, and he lost his confidence, dignity, wife, as well as his passion. He became bitter, stopped taking risks, and drowned his sorrows in borscht soup.
Because their star performer, the very source of their inspiration, ceased his acts, so did the rest of the circus animals, and Circus Zaragoza soon fell into a rut with lousy performances and lack of income.
Vitaly is first seen on a circus train with Gia the jaguar and Stefano the sea lion. Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman were trying to escape from Captain Chantel DuBois, the mad animal control officer. When Alex and his friends plead with the circus to let them escape on their train, Vitaly is the most resistant, stating that "this train is for circus animals only." Considering how desperate they were, Alex tries to convince the tiger that they are circus animals. Vitaly argues with Gia and Stefano and was forced to concede himself.
When Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman express an interest in accompanying the circus through Europe to their American Tour, Vitaly instantly wanted them gone, stating the circus owners would not allow stowaways, but thankfully, the penguins and chimps (using a human disguise as the king of Versailles) purchase the circus, which the owners were all too happy to sell, due to the fortune they had and the rut it had been in, to prevent their ejection. To Alex's horror, the circus proves so inept that the angered audience demands refunds to the point of chasing the circus to the departing train to London. En route, Stefano reveals Vitaly's history to Alex.
Taking a stop in the Alps, Alex gives everyone an inspiring speech and convinces the circus animals to do an all-animal circus. Vitaly is hostile to the idea, stating the circus had long performed traditional entertainment, but Gia and Stefano manage to convince him to try and rediscover his passion and that "circus always sticks together." In turn, Vitaly concedes to jump through one hoop.
However, the night before their London performance, Vitaly was terrorized by a flashback of his catastrophe. On the night of the performance, Vitaly intended to leave, thinking the circus wouldn't need him. Alex confronts Vitaly and reminds the tiger of his love of performing and while suggesting he use hair conditioner as a safer lubricant before regaining his courage to jump through the tiny flaming hoop. As a result, Vitaly's stunt is performed perfectly to open the successful show. With that, a profoundly heartened Vitaly becomes a fast friend of Alex.
However, the happy moment is ruined by the arrival of DuBois, who reveals that Alex as well as Marty, Gloria, and Melman are zoo animals and demands their custody. The penguins manage to get rid of her, but the damage was done. Vitaly and the others realized that Alex had lied to them about being circus animals and his so-called trapeze act when Alex admits they'd wanted to join the circus to make it back to New York. As a result, the circus animals shun the Zoosters, and although they got the American Tour, everyone is disheartened.
However, Vitaly, upon learning from Skipper that DuBois has captured Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman, he is eager to rescue them. They arrive at the Central Park Zoo and make it in time to stop DuBois from discreetly killing Alex. They free the Zoosters, with Vitaly jumping through a keyhole in Marty's habitat and bringing him out in the same fashion. After Alex defeats DuBois, the circus accepts the four as permanent members.
Vitaly is last seen riding off in the circus train with the rest of his friends to carry on with their American Tour, singing "Afro-Circus/I Like to Move it" all the way.
Born and raised a circus performer, Vitaly has years of practice in several circus-relating performing arts, notably his ability to pass through extremely small hoops. He also has some acrobatic skills, utilizing cartwheels, backflips, even axle-spinning when he leaps through hoops.
Vitaly is also a skilled knife-thrower, though he merely uses it as an intimidation factor.
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