Exotic wild beasts from the far reaches of the Roman Empire were brought to Rome and hunts were held in the morning prior to the afternoon main event of gladiatorial duels. The hunts were held in the Roman Forum, the Saepta, and in the Circus Maximus, though none of these venues offered protectio n to the crowd from the wild animals on display. Special precautions were taken to prevent the animals from escaping these venues, such as the erection of barriers and the digging of ditches. Very few animals survived these hunts though they did sometimes defeat the "bestiarius", or hunter of wild beast. Thousands of wild animals would be slaughtered in one day. During the inauguration of the Colosseum over 9,000 animals were killed.
Not all the animals were ferocious, though most were. Animals that appeared in the venatio included lions, elephants, bears, tigers, deer, wild goats, dogs, leopards, crocodiles, boars, hippopotamuses, and rabbits. Some of these animals were trained, and instead of fighting, performed tricks.
The treatment given to wolves differed from the treatment meted out to other large predators. The Romans generally seem to have refrained from intentionally harming wolves. For instance, they were not displayed in the venationes due to their religious importance to the Romans.
Revered for its ferocity, the lion was extremely popular in venationes and gladiatorial shows. Thus the dictator Caesar used 400 lions (imported primarily from North Africa and Syria) in the Circus, where the inclusion of the foreign animal lent his shows extra panache. Indeed, obtaining the animals from the far-flung corners of the empire was an ostentatious display of wealth and power by the emperor or other patron to the populace, and was also meant to demonstrate Roman power of the whole human and animal world and to show the plebs of Rome exotic animals they might never see otherwise.
During the reign of Augustus Caesar the circus games resulted in the death of 3,500 elephants.
Here is one recorded encounter where scythed chariots were on the winning side:
The soldiers had got into the habit of collecting their supplies carelessly and without taking precautions. There was one occasion when Pharnabazus, with 2 scythed chariots and about 400 cav alry, came on them when they were scattered all over the plain. When the Greeks saw him bearing down on them, they ran to join up with each other, about 700 altogether; but Pharnabazus did not waste time. Putting the chariots in front, and following behind them himself with the cavalry, he ordered a charge. The chariots dashing into the Greek ranks, broke up their close formation, and the cavalry soon cut down about a hundred men. The rest fled and took refuge with Agesilaus, who happened to be close at hand with the hoplites.