Siegfried & Roy Tiger Handler Says That Roy Is To Blame For Near-Fatal Accident, Alleges Cover-Up

'Many of the handlers thought that Roy was treating the cats more like props than he was respecting them for who they were.'

this is a stock photo of siegfried & roy
Usien / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 Aaron Homer)

'Many of the handlers thought that Roy was treating the cats more like props than he was respecting them for who they were.'

An animal handler who formerly worked for Siegfried & Roy says that there is more to the story of what happened the night Roy nearly died from an incident involving a tiger than what the famed Vegas magicians are letting on, MSN reports. Specifically, Chris  Lawrence says that Roy himself is to blame for the near-fatal accident, and that the two magicians used their clout to cover it up.

The incident

On the night of October 3, 2003, in front of hundreds of paying guests at Las Vegas’ Mirage, the nightly Siegfried & Roy Magic Show went almost fatally awry. The magicians’ act had long been famed for its use of rare and exotic animals, and at that particular moment the men were performing with a tiger named Mantecore.

During the performance, Mantecore bit Roy on the neck and dragged him a few feet before crew members were able to separate man from beast. Roy was taken to a nearby trauma center, where he nearly died from blood loss. He was able to recover, and over the next few months and years, with the help of his partner Siegfried, regained the ability to walk.

Nevertheless, the incident effectively ended Siegfried & Roy’s careers, but for the rare television appearance here and there afterwards.

Ever since the night of the attack, the duo have maintained that Roy suffered a stroke and that Mantecore, going into protective mode, was trying to drag Roy to safety.

That’s not what happened, says Lawrence.

The coverup

Lawrence claims that Roy had been spending less and less time with his show animals, Mantecore specifically. That was an almost fatal mistake, he says, because trained show animals must bond with their handlers, and that bond must be maintained. When that bond is erased, the trust between man and animal that drives the performance is gone — and that’s when the animals become unpredictable.

“Many of the handlers thought that Roy was treating the cats more like props than he was respecting them for who they were. That can only work as long as there are no variables, which is impossible considering that you’re dealing with a living, thinking animal.”

There was another mistake that night, too. Instead of following the usual procedures and routes on stage that Mantecore was used to, Roy took a shortcut, confusing the animal and causing him to go into “confusion and rebellion.”

Further, he believes that Roy has been kept in the dark about what really happened that night.

Lawrence’s revelations come as reports indicate that Siegfried & Roy are in talks to develop a biopic about the couple.