In the News: The Beast Within, Roy Horn and Montecore

Roy Horn and Siegfried Fishbacher have performed around 5,700 shows since they began at the Mirage in Las Vegas over ten years ago. The signature of their magic show has been their white tigers and lions.

Six shows a week, 44 weeks a year they worked with their big cats on stage, and not once has there been an incident. In fact, according to reports, Montecore nipped at Roy’s arm earlier in the show before carrying him off stage and seriously injuring him, without leaving any bite marks.

Which is more than I can say about Baby Kittee here at my own house.

I know all about Baby Kittee’s speed and teeth. She is, to quote the poet William Blake, “red in tooth and claw.” As I vacuum around the house, I find wings, scales, tails and other remnants of her nature. Her name was chosen by my granddaughter. It might as well have been “Grownup Killer.” Cats are always one generation away from feral; they do not permanently domesticate, like the dog.

Now did you catch that 6 shows a week? According to Horn’s surgeon, Dr. Derek Duke, “A contributing factor to [Roy’s] current condition is his extraordinary will and strong physical attributes. These are significant elements in his ability to recover.” Indeed his “thumbs-up” signal to his partner has been mentioned by reporters.

We are told that as he was carried away, he asked that the cat not be put down. “Please don’t shoot the cat,” he said. “Save the cat.”

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It was Roy Horn’s 59th birthday (October 23, 2003) when he was performing on stage with the 7-year-old, 600 pound Royal white tiger, Montecore, that the cat injured him.

Reports from the shocked observers varied, but the consensus, now that some time has passed, is that the tiger became fascinated with a woman’s “big hair” in the audience, even to the point of lying down on the job, at which point Roy bopped him to get his attention.

Roy then endeavored to stay between the cat and the woman (what’s with the “big hair”?) and it was at this point he fell, stage hands rushed forward, and Montecore took action. According to the head of the Mirage (Mr. Wynne), he didn’t “drag” Roy offstage, nor did he “attack” or “grab” him.

Siegfried and other big cat experts agree that if Montecore had meant to do the job, he would have shaken him to break his neck, and, as Siegfried said, “There would be no Roy.”