Famed Las Vegas magician Roy Horn, half of Las Vegas’ legendary Siegfried and Roy, was savagely mauled by a 600-pound, 7-year-old, male white tiger during a performance Friday night at the Mirage hotel-casino, Reuters reports.
The tiger grabbed the performer’s forearm about halfway into the performance, witnesses said. As Horn tried to fend the tiger off with his microphone–hitting the animal in the face and saying “no, no”–the animal finally lunged and bit him on the neck, dragging him offstage, Reuters reports. Handlers sprayed the tiger with a fire extinguisher to separate him from Roy, who was conscious but bleeding very heavily.
Horn remained in critical but stable condition at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, about two miles north of the Mirage hotel-casino, and on Sunday he signaled a thumb’s up after a second surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, a family friend told Reuters.
Horn’s partner, 64-year-old Siegfried Fischbacher, spent most of Friday night and early Saturday at the hospital, Horn spokesman David Kirvin told Reuters. “He is shocked and devastated.”
But Kirvin added, “The doctors are encouraged that [Horn] will recover, but it will be several days until the full extent of his injury is known.”
Penn Jillette, of the magic act Penn & Teller, was among those who have visited the hospital in past 24 hours to show support. “They devised this bigger than life thing,” Jillette said. “His job, he’s the best at it there ever was. You could never read the danger in his face.”
Siegfried and Roy’s manager announced Saturday that the show would be suspended indefinitely, and all employees have been encouraged to look for work elsewhere, Reuters reports.
“We didn’t want to lead them to think this would resolve in the next day or two, week or two, or month or two,” said Alan Feldman, a spokesman for MGM Mirage.
The fate of the tiger is still unknown, although as Horn was being led away by paramedics, he said: “Don’t kill the cat,” Amy Fink, a family friend, told Reuters.
“The last place Roy would place blame would be with the animal,” Bernie Yuman, manager for Siegfried and Roy, told Reuters Saturday. Although the two stars have performed more than 5,000 shows during their 14 years at the Mirage, there have been no attacks until now.
White tigers and lions are a trademark of the German-born illusionists, who have been putting on one of the most famous shows in Las Vegas for more than 30 years.