Roy Horn of 'Siegfried & Roy' still critical after tiger attack

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Illusionist Roy Horn of "Siegfried & Roy" fame remained hospitalized in critical condition on a ventilator Sunday, two days after a 600-pound white tiger attacked him during a sold-out performance.

MGM Mirage officials said Horn has been able to communicate with doctors since he suffered a near-fatal injury to the left side of his neck. The performer underwent surgery late Friday and Saturday at University Medical Center.

"The doctors are cautiously optimistic," Bernie Yuman, the duo's longtime manager, said Sunday afternoon during a news conference.

"The doctors are telling us that the more time that passes, the better we are. Every day that passes we are going to be in better shape."

Horn, 59, was heavily sedated but able to respond to voices and touch, MGM Mirage Resort CEO Bobby Baldwin said.

MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman added it might take another day or two before doctors have a prognosis.

With Horn's future uncertain, MGM Mirage officials told the show's 267 employees Saturday night that the production was closed indefinitely and to look for new jobs.

"We are not going to sugarcoat this," Feldman said.

Even if Horn does recover, it's not clear whether he'll ever be able to perform again in the rigorous show.

Horn, along with longtime partner Siegfried Fischbacher, have been a staple on the Las Vegas Strip for years, performing their magic show to sold-out crowds at The Mirage since 1990.

"For more than four decades, I have had the great privilege of standing at the side of this remarkable man, and I will continue to do so during this very challenging time," Fischbacher said in a statement Saturday. "We are grateful and overwhelmed with the tremendous support we have received from around the world."

It was halfway during a Friday night performance at casino that Horn appeared alone on stage with the massive white tiger.

Horn told the tiger, a 7-year-old male named Montecore, to lie down. When the refused, Horn tapped the cat on the nose with a microphone to get its attention. The animal grabbed at Horn's arm, causing the entertainer to stumble.

The tiger, which weighs about 600 pounds, then lunged at Horn, who tried to beat the animal away with a microphone. Audience members said the tiger dragged Horn off the stage by the neck. The attack barely missed severing Horn's carotid artery.

"I knew he was in trouble right away. I was horrified," said Diane Weightman, of Higley, Ariz. "I wanted to jump on stage and help him. I didn't know what to do."

Feldman said stage crew members used fire extinguishers to get the tiger off Horn.

After the attack, Fischbacher appeared on stage and told the 1,500 audience members the performance was canceled.

Montecore continues to be quarantined at the hotel, officials said.

Horn had never been injured during a show before, "not a scratch, not by an animal," Yuman said, who added none of the 63 exotic cats "have ever shown aggression on stage."

The illusionists, who put on one of the most well-known and expensive Las Vegas shows with their signature white tigers and lions, signed a lifetime contract with The Mirage in 2001.

The German-born pair perform six shows a week, 44 weeks per year and have been onstage in Las Vegas for more than 35 years. They have done about 5,700 shows at The Mirage.


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