“My lifesaver, ‘Manticore’, who was the one responsible for pulling me to safety where the Paramedics could help me after my high blood pressure made me dizzy on stage,” he wrote. A doctor involved with Horn’s care told the Las Vegas Sun in 2003 the magician suffered a major stroke after the attack, leaving him paralyzed.
ABC 20/20’s Siegfried & Roy : Behind the Magic originally aired September 27, 2019, as the season 42 premiere. Siegfried and Roy today often visited the Secret Garden and perform impromptu magic acts for guests.
Horn has contended Manticore, or Monte core, the white tiger did not attack the magician but acted quickly to save him. It is with great sorrow that I am writing you this note today that on March 19, 2014, in the early afternoon our beloved 17-year-old White Tiger Friend and Brother, ‘Manticore’ left us and is now with his siblings in White Tiger heaven.
My lifesaver, ‘Manticore’, who was the one responsible for pulling me to safety where the Paramedics could help me after my high blood pressure made me dizzy on stage. Spring is in the air, so things could change as we have at least 2 females who are of age for breeding giving me hope for a New Generation.
It left Horn partially paralyzed after damaging an artery that carries blood to his brain and crushing his windpipe. “This moment haunts me to my core and plagues me with overwhelming guilt,” Lawrence told The Hollywood Reporter.
“I actually talked Roy into using the tiger that would ultimately maul him and end the most successful stage show in the history of Las Vegas.” Horn, 74, was mauled and dragged offstage by Monte core, a 400-pound Siberian tiger, during a live show on Oct. 3, 2003, ending Siegfried & Roy's successful Las Vegas run.
Following the attack, Horn adamantly said the tiger “saved my life” by dragging him to safety after he suffered a stroke. But trainer Chris Lawrence told the Hollywood Reporter in March that Horn made an error onstage that almost cost him his life.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday, Horn and his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, doubled down that the career-ending incident was “an accident” not an “attack.” However, Lawrence told THE that the duo's explanation is a “romanticized” cover story, adding that Horn suffered a stroke as a result of the attack.
“What Roy did was, instead of walking Monte core in a circle, as is usually done, he just used his arm to steer him right back into his body, in a pirouette motion,” Lawrence said. Horn has difficulty walking and talking, which a 2005 USDA report said was the result of a crushed windpipe and damage to an artery carrying oxygen to his brain.
© Alan Berliner/BEI/Shutterstock his lavish 59th birthday party in the Mirage Hotel theater that bears the duo's name, Roy Horn, the dark-haired half of the team, ushered in the early hours of the morning with 500 friends and fellow entertainers. He had spent the evening table-hopping and dancing, and at midnight raised a glass to his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, in celebration of their 44 years together.
“I'll retire only when I can't do it anymore,” Roy shot back in his heavy German accent, alluding to the physical strength necessary to swing on ropes 30 feet above the audience and handle the 600-pound tigers that were the centerpiece of the act. “It is incredibly dangerous, and we took Roy, this superman, for granted all of these years,” says fellow Vegas magician Lance Burton.
In 30,000 perfectly timed shows with elephants, lions, tigers, cheetahs, and sharp-beaked macaws, Siegfried & Roy had never had a serious mishap. Roy didn't so much train the animals as bond with them through a technique he called “affection conditioning,” raising tiger cubs from birth and sleeping with them until they were a year old.
Forty-five minutes into the show, at about 8:15 p.m., Roy led out Manta core, a seven-year-old white tiger born in Guadalajara, Mexico. With no barrier protecting the audience, Roy leapt to put himself between Manta core and the front row, only a few feet away.
Roy gave him a command to lie down, and Manta core refused, gripping the trainer's right wrist with his paw. © Will Schneider/Shutterstock”He lost the chain and grabbed for it, but couldn't get it,” says Tony Cohen, a Miami tourist who was sitting ten yards from the stage.
With his free hand holding a wireless microphone, Roy tried repeatedly tapping Manta core on the head, the sound reverberating through the theater. Manta core relaxed his grip, but Roy had been straining to pull away, and fell backward over the tiger's leg.
But the tiger was resolute, and dragged his master 30 feet offstage “literally like a rag doll,” as another witness recalls. Some members of the show who witnessed the incident say the cat didn't necessarily mean to kill, but was confused by the break in the routine and angry at being disciplined.
They believe the stress of the situation caused Manta core to turn on the man who had worked with him almost daily from the time he was six months old. Whatever the cause, horrified stagehands backstage sprayed the tiger with a fire extinguisher to get him to free Roy.
Meanwhile, a trauma team assembled at University Medical Center, and as Roy labored to breathe, an ambulance screamed through the neon night. Before the story hit the papers, producer Kenneth Held had canceled the 13-year-old show, telling more than 200 cast members to look for other work.
Along the Strip, few performers were more admired than these two, who met as young men working on a German cruise ship. When they brought their magic act to Vegas in 1967 they helped transform a town then ruled by crooners, off-color comics and topless dancers.
At the hospital the night of the attack, Siegfried was in shock, recalled his friends Robert and Melinda Macy, who wrote a souvenir book Gift for the Ages with the pair. On the way to the trauma center, paramedics had stanched Roy's massive blood loss, and he was immediately taken into surgery.
But early the next morning, Roy suffered a “pretty big stroke,” in the words of one physician, and was returned to surgery at 9:30, where doctors performed a large decompressive craniectomy, temporarily removing about a quarter of his skull to relieve swelling on his brain. Yet amazingly, he responded to Steve Wynn only days later, squeezing his hand once for “yes” and twice for “no,” and answering in the affirmative when asked if he could handle such an ordeal.
The entertainer was writing prolific notes, giving orders in them, even asking for a Madonna CD. In the months following, the duo's camp was largely silent, as was the show's producer, Kenneth Held, owner of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Held had troubles other than Roy's injuries: Animal rights groups have loudly insisted that show tigers should be retired. Often in cases like Roy Horn's, a patient also exhibits residual effects of brain injury such as speech difficulties, memory problems, emotional instability, and impaired critical thinking skills.
By late January, his tracheal tube was out, allowing him to talk and ask for two of his favorite foods, pistachio ice cream and Wiener schnitzel. Still, those bright signs might not be enough to ensure Roy's return to the stage, and he may finally be ready to take that retirement he spoke of at his birthday party.
If so, he will likely find some way to contribute, his friends say, if only at the “Secret Garden,” the lush animal habitat behind the Mirage where Manta core now paces and fixes his visitors with icy blue eyes. But, one of the trainers, Chris Lawrence, says that Manta core wasn't acting as a hero at all, rather that he became confused and deliberately attacked Roy on stage that night.
He thinks that the pair never admitted the truth about the attack because they didn't want to ruin the image they had built around their relationships with the tigers. The attack ended the careers of Horn and his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, as an audience of 1,500 watched 400-pound tiger Monte core bite Roy and drag him offstage.
Now, trainer Chris Lawrence has spoken out to The Hollywood Reporter, claiming Roy himself is to blame for the accident. In a long interview, Lawrence says Horn was spending too little time with the tigers before shows, eroding the bond between animal and performer.
“Many of the handlers thought that Roy was treating the cats more like props than he was respecting them for who they were,” Lawrence explains to THE. He tells THE he's speaking out now to set out the facts before a planned biopic Siegfried & Roy reportedly have in the works.
“I actually talked Roy into using the tiger that would ultimately maul him and end the most successful stage show in the history of Las Vegas.” “What Roy did was, instead of walking Monte core in a circle, as is usually done, he just used his arm to steer him right back into his body, in a pirouette motion,” Lawrence says.
When the tiger bit at Horn's sleeve, Lawrence made a move to intervene, tempting him with raw meat. Now 74, he has difficulty walking and talking, which a 2005 USDA report said was the result of a crushed windpipe and damage to an artery carrying oxygen to Horn's brain.
Lawrence worked at the Secret Garden, a small zoo on the property of the Mirage that houses big cats, until three years after the incident, but says he quit because of guilt over Horn's injuries and his increasing discomfort around animals. But Lawrence was onstage that night, and says that Horn made a near-fatal error in his handling of Manta core.
He told The Hollywood Reporter that Horn had been neglecting his animal-handling duties prior to the attack. On the night of the attack, incidentally also Roy’s birthday, Lawrence suggested Manta core as the animal to perform.
“I remember experiencing a crippling guilt over the thought that I was going to be leaving my children without a father and cause them unimaginable pain that they were too young to understand,” he told the Reporter. Lawrence’s account was left out of the report to the USDA, and Siegfried and Roy sent out a statement that did not line up with his memory of the event.
Lawrence is speaking out now because Siegfried and Roy are making a biopic which will detail the attack, and he wanted to set the record straight before it was released.