On Friday evening, October 3rd, his 59th birthday, Roy Horn walked onstage at the Mirage hotel with his partner in magic since the early 1960’s, Siegfried Fischbacher, and began delighting the capacity audience with their special blend of big budget illusions and wild animal acts, as they had for many years before.
For over a half an hour the Siegfried and Roy show ran smoothly, and then, when the moment was right, Roy introduced Montecore, a 7 year old, 600 pound, male white tiger to the packed crowd. Roy joked that this was Montecore’s first time on stage. It was a joke he made every night to add a bit of adrenaline into an already excited room. In reality, Montecore had been performing with the duo since he was a 6 month old cub.
Eyewitnesses say what happened next is something they will never forget. Whether it was because the tiger was distracted by the “large hairdo” of a woman seated near the front row, or the tiger was agitated at Roy, or Roy was not paying close enough attention to the animal, is something that we may never know, and depends on who you believe; The non-animal professionals who were in attendance, the professional animal trainers who were not in attendance on that night, or the casino owners and show performers, who have a somewhat vested interest to make sure paying customers feel safe when they book a vacation for their family.