Positive Environment News

Roy 'improving every day' after tiger attack Peter Henderson

Date: 13-Oct-03
Country: USA

"He is improving every day. It looks like he is turning the corner," Wynn said in a telephone interview last week. Wynn said he had seen the star of the famed "Siegfried and Roy" show on Thursday evening.

"The doctor is saying he's got a 95-, 98-percent chance" and Horn was breathing for hours at a time without a respirator, he said.

Wynn, who built the Mirage, and hired the "Siegfried & Roy" white tiger and magic show as a lead attraction, also said he had seen a videotape taken by the resort of the cat dragging Horn off stage during the fateful show a week ago.

Wynn said he felt certain that the tiger was trying to take his trainer to safety during a moment of confusion. The white male tiger, Montecore, grabbed Horn by the neck during a performance last Friday on Horn's 59th birthday.

Wynn said tests showed Horn did not sustain any permanent brain injuries and that the illusionist was communicating by squeezing with his right hand, which was at full strength.

"He was not following me with his eyes, but he was following me with his hands," said Wynn. "It will be a couple of weeks before we know the extent of any (physical) handicap."

TIGER SAVED ROY

Horn tripped during the performance while trying to distract the attention of the tiger from an audience member - a woman with a large hairdo, who reached out to pet it, Wynn said.

The tiger had grabbed Horn by the forearm before the fall, and Horn rapped him on the nose with a microphone. That made a loud noise, and Horn's partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, and animal trainers rushed to the animal while Horn was down.

That was when the tiger bent down, grabbed Horn by the neck and took him offstage, Wynn said.

The tiger, which is now being kept in quarantine in a cage at the Mirage, calmly paced back stage on the route that he walked during the show and attempted to go back into his cage, with Horn.

"He walks off stage, right as with rehearsal," Wynn said.

One animal behaviourist agreed that the tiger was probably confused and not trying to kill Horn.

When Horn fell, the cat's hunter instinct took over, and he pounced, conjectured Louis Dorfman, chairman of the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary in Boyd, Texas. Dorfman works with big cats and has seen "Siegfried & Roy."

"He didn't mean to kill. Even though his instincts took over he was mindful of the fact this was Roy," Dorfman said.

"His instinct, just like your cat at home, is to take his toy off with him," he said.

Reuters
© Thomson Reuters 2003 All rights reserved

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