October 4, 2003
Tiger Attacks Las Vegas Magician Roy Horn
A trained tiger attacked magician Roy Horn of the duo Siegfried & Roy during a performance, biting his neck and dragging him off stage just feet from the audience. Horn's manager said Saturday the illusionist underwent surgery and was in critical condition.
People attending the show Friday night at The Mirage hotel-casino said the white tiger lunged at Horn shortly after he led it on stage, and that he tried to beat the animal off with a microphone.
"We honestly thought it was part of the show, we didn't know what was going on," said Sharna Wiblen, who was in the audience. Andy Cushman, also in the audience, said Horn "looked like a rag doll" as the tiger dragged him off the stage.
The illusionist was taken to a hospital and underwent surgery to the neck area, Horn's longtime manager, Bernie Yuman, said Saturday. He said Horn's doctors said the surgery went as expected and that Horn was in critical but stable condition.
"Roy has had a rapport with exotic animals for 44 years," but he never takes that for granted, Yuman told NBC's "Today" show.
"At the end of the day, when you perform that many shows and have no incident what so ever, this is the anomaly," he said. "I would say that most of us are traumatized."
Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said Horn, who turned 59 on Friday, had a serious injury to the left side of his neck. Horn was able to talk with the ambulance staff on the way to the hospital, Clark County Fire spokesman Bob Leinbach said.
Horn, the dark-haired member of the duo, appeared alone on stage with the tiger about 45 minutes into the show and told the audience the animal was making its debut, Cushman said.
After the attack, Cushman said, Siegfried Fischbacher appeared on stage and said the performance was canceled.
Hotel officials said the show has been canceled indefinitely. The tiger involved in the attack, a 7-year-old male named Montecore, was quarantined at the hotel, officials said.
"Roy is a very, very strong-willed person as well as having physical strength," Yuman said. "I'm cautiously optimistic."
He thanked friends and fans who have sent their support. "It's touching to hear from so many people all at a short time," Yuman said.
The illusionists' show, with its signature white tigers and lions, is one of the most well-known and expensive in Las Vegas.
The German-born pair perform six shows a week and have been performing in Las Vegas for more than 30 years. They signed a lifetime contract with the Mirage in 2001.
Associated Press Writer Ken Ritter contributed to this report.
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