Mantecore, the tiger responsible — but never blamed — for a near-fatal injury to Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy in 2003, died on March 19.
The white tiger was 17 and died “after a short illness,” according to a press release. Zoologists say 17 is within the lower-end parameter of a normal life expectancy for a tiger.
The tiger (his name usually spelled “Montecore” in press reports) was reported as seven years old the night he bit Horn on the neck during a show at The Mirage. Though Horn suffered significant blood loss from the bite, it was a stroke and brain-swelling which followed the injury that left Horn partially paralyzed, ending the entertainer’s stage career.
Mantecore was quarantined for 10 days following the Oct. 3 injury, but was then returned to exhibit at The Mirage’s Secret Garden of Siegfried & Roy attraction after no signs of disease or abnormal behavior were found. He spent most of his remaining years alternating between the Secret Garden attraction and Horn’s estate.
Even during the early days of his recovery, Horn was adamant in his wishes the tiger be spared, and has always argued with reports that he was “attacked” by the tiger. Siegfried & Roy have long contended Horn suffered a stroke onstage, and that the tiger punctured his neck while dragging him backstage as a protective response.
As recently as his 69th birthday party last October, Horn chided Review-Journal columnist Norm Clarke for his word choice in a column recounting the incident. “It was not an attack,” Horn said in a scolding tone and repeated it.
Horn released a statement today:
“The world has lost one of its most majestic creatures and I have lost a brother. I will forever believe it was his concern for my safety and well-being that caused him to act as he did on that night long ago. We spent many hours together and he never failed to bring me great joy and wonderment. It was my great honor to be beside him at the end. He is now playing with his siblings in White Tiger heaven.”
Horn added, “His contribution to the avalanche of awareness for conservation and preservation has made him unforgettable. His spirit will live forever with Siegfried & Roy and his multitude of fans.”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.