Animal experts question Siegfried's tiger theory

Friday, October 10, 2003

— Animal experts on Thursday disputed a theory that a tiger accidentally mauled Roy Horn of the duo "Siegfried & Roy," saying the 600-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 with CNN and ABC that the animal had been trying to help Horn after the illusionist slipped during the Oct. 3 performance.

Fischbacher said he was backstage when the Royal White 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, with the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary. "It was an outlet for his irritation. Roy got lucky."