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Tiger Attack! Roy Horn & Montecore

Las Vegas entertainer and Feld Entertainment icon Roy Horn was attacked on stage by his tiger Montecore. The cat grabbed him around the neck and dragged him backstage.

So just what happened? Read an interview with Diana L Guerrero and excerpts from a follow-up interview to get an animal expert opinion. Read the original interview about the Montecore Attack on Roy Horn here.

Shortly after the attack on Roy Horn you made some comments about the attack. Have you changed your mind based on the interview that aired on September 15, 2004

No, I have not changed my mind. Mr. Horn claims that he suspects that Montecore moved him off stage to safety. However, I have witnessed the same type of attacks triggered the same way and his justification for the behavior is not what happens. Did he actually have a mini-stroke on stage as he mentioned? Unless a video tape is analyzed we won't know. However, I doubt it. What was exhibited is natural predator attack behavior. Was it predatory? That has not be assessed.

Animal behavior remains constant and is predictable to a certain extent. Motivations or reactions are also traceable to particular triggers or conditions.

Despite the best efforts to justify any actions, wild animals act as wild animals. Any animal professional knows that he or she works in an industry that carries an inherent danger of injury or attack. However, the Bureau of Labor Animal Attack Statistics actually documents more risk of injury or death from cattle or equine than from exotic animals.

Unfortunately it is more sensational to cover predator or large animal attacks versus the domestic animal incidents.

What do you think about the comment made during the Maria Shriver interview that Montecore was taking Roy Horn to safety?

Humans attempt to explain events based on subjective views and not all of those views are correct. In this case I don't agree with what I have heard as Roy Horn's interview explanation of Montecore's actions (attempting to drag him to safety). I believe Roy Horn is concerned with the health and welfare of the tiger. Only an objective professional analysis of the video tape would reveal a more accurate assessment. Roy Horn experienced a major trauma and his perspective, although valuable, is also shaded by concern for the welfare of the tiger and his being the victim.

Although feedback can be valuable, witnesses of the incident are non-animal professionals whose perceptions of the incident will vary.

Do you have any insights to share on the tiger attack on performer and magician Roy Horn?

Unless you witness and attack or are able to view the footage, which still has not been released, it is difficult to draw good conclusions. You can speculate based on experience--but that is about all.

There are many groups militantly against having wild animals in working situations or in captivity. These types of incidents (tiger attacks) are used to attempt to curtail housing wild animals in captivity and to prevent using wild animals in working conditions.

Early in my career the regulations in California (and other states) were not so stringent. We worked hands-on with animals of all types in all situations. This was stimulating to the animals and the close encounters of the wild kind created a more caring general public. The pendulum swing never seems to hit middle ground and opinions cover every point in the spectrum.

My personal belief is that amateurs should not own wild animals as they require intense care and skill than the average person can provide. Even the best professionals encounter difficulties.

What do you think about captive wild animals? Please see my article on that topic now.

Earlier you talked about a pendulum swing* in relation to views on animals, especially captive animals and training, do you have any insights to the incident with Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy?

Again, I did not witness the event so it would be difficult to analyze the incident without reviewing a video tape. However, I did hear that staff and Roy perceived a problem prior to escalation. If the accounts I have read are accurate, he thumped the tiger on the nose prior to the incident. Animal actors and habituated animals don't attack out of the blue--or unexpectedly. They usually telegraph their intent in advance--by giving subtle precursory warnings.

My guess is that the cat telegraphed trouble prior to coming on stage, and if he had wanted to kill Roy he could have done so easily. The size and power of a tiger is beyond your imagination and the damage can be severe--as in this case. People want to believe that these creatures are amiable housecats, they are not. A wild animal is always a wild animal, even if habituated to humans and raised well. A good relationship with the animal does not always prevent incidents.

Anything with claws and teeth can inflict injury. In the case of wild animals, it can be a numbers game....if you work with these animals it is only a matter of time before you encounter a challenge. If you are lucky, you avoid the situation, or gain control over the animal before the circumstances escalate. Mr. Horn was fortunate that there was a contingency plan implemented behind stage.

AP News Release: Roy Horn Attack Interview

Roy Horn Tiger Attack Video Under Wraps

ABC News Commentary on Roy Horn Tiger Attack

HSUS Commentary on Tiger Attack on Roy Horn

Read about the 2006 SF Zoo Tiger Attack


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Guerrero Ink: Freelance Animal Writer

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