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THE NATION

Attack by Tiger Not Accidental, Experts Say

October 10, 2003|From Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Animal experts on Thursday disputed a theory that a tiger accidentally mauled Roy Horn of the duo Siegfried & Roy, saying the 550-pound animal was going for the jugular.

"The cat wasn't trying to protect him," said Jonathan Kraft, who runs the Arizona-based nonprofit group Keepers of the Wild. "That was a typical killing bite.

"I admire the guys; I just think they are sending a wrong message," Kraft said. "The message needs to be: These are wild animals."

Horn's partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, said Wednesday in interviews on CNN and ABC that the animal had been trying to help Horn after the illusionist slipped during Friday's performance.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 04, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 58 words Type of Material: Correction
Siegfried & Roy -- Articles in various sections of The Times have been in conflict about the weight of the tiger that mauled illusionist Roy Horn on Oct. 3. Times reports have given its weight as 300, 550 and 600 pounds. Siegfried & Roy's publicist and Las Vegas animal control officials said the tiger weighed about 380 pounds.

Fischbacher said he was backstage when the royal white Siberian tiger named Montecore took hold of Horn's neck and dragged him offstage. Show workers set off fire extinguishers to distract the tiger, which then scurried to his cage.

Fischbacher said Horn muttered after the attack: "Don't harm the cat."

Louis Dorfman, a Dallas animal behaviorist, said Fischbacher's account of an accidental mauling was "a beautiful story but it just doesn't wash."

"Stress led to the bite," said Dorfman, who works with the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary in Texas. "It was an outlet for his irritation. Roy got lucky."

Siegfried & Roy debuted in 1990 at the Mirage and earned the hotel-casino about $44 million in annual revenue. The show's 267 employees have been told to find new jobs.

Horn, 59, was injured before a sellout crowd of 1,500.

He remained in critical condition Thursday and could not speak. Fischbacher confirmed to Associated Press that Horn suffered a stroke after the attack but is now communicating through hand signals.

MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman cautioned that the full story probably won't be known until Horn can talk.

Fischbacher hinted at a return to the stage if Horn recovers, saying the duo will "take a different path, I'm sure, but ... the show is our life."

The duo's manager, Bernie Yuman, told Associated Press on Thursday that Fischbacher would never continue to perform without his longtime partner. "It is Siegfried & Roy, and that's the way it began and that's the way it will always be," he said.

The cat remains quarantined at the casino.

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