Big Cat Conservation
For over 20 years, Siegfried and Roy have worked for the care and conservation of Royal White Tigers, starting with the offspring of a perfectly matched pair given to the U.S. by the Maharaja of Rewa in 1958. As a result of their efforts, there are now 200 of those rare and beautiful big cats gracing our planet (38 of them in Las Vegas, housed in comfort in the Mirage's White Tiger Habitat).
In 1993, they expanded their efforts to include the Magical White Lions, and on April first of 2001, their white Lioness Prosperity, gave birth to four cubs, dubbed The Pride of the Millennium, at the Cincinnati Zoo. That record-breaking birth increased the number of these precious lions in Siegfried and Roy's worldwide conservation program to 23.
Roy has "fathered" many of his big cats from birth. "The first voice they hear is mine, the first touch they feel is mine, the fist human face they see is mine," he confides on his web site.
Siegfried & Roy actively support the Save the Tiger Fund, a special project of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in partnership with Exxon Mobil Corporation. The fund is dedicated to saving Asia's remaining wild tigers from extinction.You may contribute, by sending a check to: Save the Tiger Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National Office, 1120 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20036. I can think of no more fitting way of actively demonstrating your support during Roy Horn's recovery from his wounds.
What Was Behind the "Attack" by the White Tiger?
Original reports were full of description phrases such as "lunged at," "attacked," and "dragged offstage." In the confusion and horror at the time, it is no wonder that memories may have been colored by the perception of the crowd. However, in an exclusive interview for KLAS TV, Steve Wynn, builder of the Mirage, has pieced together an entirely different explanation, taken from various accounts of people who were there. The story goes something like this:
While Roy was leading Montecore onstage, the big cat became fascinated with a "big hairdo" of a woman who was seated in the front row, to the point where the white lion lay down and gazed at the woman. When Roy saw what was happening, he placed himself between Montecore and the spectator. Montecore, intent on the distraction, gently took Roy's arm in his mouth (no bite marks were evident, according to Wynn's account). At that time, Roy verbally admonished the big cat and bopped him on the nose with the microphone, in an effort to distract him. In trying to keep between Montecore and the woman, Roy tripped and fell. As attendants rushed to the stage, Montecore's instinct was to "get out of Dodge" and back to the safety of his offstage cage, and to protect his master by taking him with him. According to Wynn, Montecore did not "drag" Roy offstage; it was a gentle "carry," much like a mother cat would carry her kitten.
Most experts on big cats agree that had Montecore intended to harm Roy, he would have grabbed him by the neck and shaken him, snapping his neck instantly. To paraphrase the words of Siegfried, "There would be no more Roy."
A statement on Siegfried and Roy's official web site says, "Siegfried & Roy are the men who have given back to the world the Magical White Lions and Royal White Tigers. Their tireless conservation efforts will mean that the children of the future will never have to ask, 'What happened to the animals?'" Roy's final words while being attended to immediately after the incident were of concern for the white tiger, "Please don't shoot the cat. Save the cat."
It seems clear to me that lovers of magic and the magical big cats can be assured that the Siegfried and Roy show will go on, whether it is offstage or on.
I pray that it will include both.