Back in the day, Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn were the epitome of Las Vegas entertainment — well, the German-American duo and their big cats, that is. That's because their signature show incorporated lions and tigers performing alongside them as they wowed packed crowds with spectacular disappearing acts.
Things were going great for their popular act at Mirage Resort and Casino for quite some time — that is, until Roy was mauled onstage by a 400-pound white tiger named Montecore.
In light of 20/20 re-airing Siegfried & Roy: Behind the Magic on April 17 (which originally aired in September 2019,) plenty of viewers have had lingering questions about what ever became of the performing duo and the tiger that nearly killed Roy. Let's take a closer look at the fate of Montecore.
What happened to Siegfried and Roy?
On Oct. 3, 2003 — Roy's 59th birthday — Roy reportedly suffered a stroke while onstage with Montecore. The 7-year-old tiger missed the cues his handler was giving him, and Roy ended up falling over the big cat's paw. That's when Montecore dragged Roy off the stage by the neck — and seriously injured the magician in the process.
It wasn't clear to doctors whether Roy had the stroke before or after he was mauled by Montecore. Either way, Roy held no hard feelings against the tiger — it was quite the opposite, actually. Roy still refers to Montecore as "his brother," and insisted the tiger "saved his life."
“He never attacked me," he told People in 2013. “If a tiger attacks you, you are finished.”
In March 2019, one of Siegfried and Roy's former tiger handlers, Chris Lawrence, told The Hollywood Reporter it was a mistake on Roy's part that prompted the tiger to attack.
"What Roy did was, instead of walking Montecore in a circle, as is usually done, he just used his arm to steer him right back into his body, in a pirouette motion," Chris told the outlet. "Montecore's face was right in (Roy's) midsection. By Roy not following the correct procedure, it fed into confusion and rebellion."
Whatever caused Montecore's attack, the incident has had lasting repercussions. Siegfried and Roy's show at the Mirage was promptly canceled, for starters. Not to mention Roy's serious injuries — which included damage to an artery that carries oxygen to the brain, as well as a crushed windpipe. He continues to have difficulty walking and talking to this day.
So what happened to Montecore?
All of the animal lovers out there have likely wondered: What happened to the tiger who attacked Roy? Thankfully, the animal wasn't put down following the incident. That's because Montecore ended up dying of natural causes at age of 17 in 2014.
"My lifesaver, Montecore, who was the one responsible for pulling me to safety where the Paramedics could help me after my high blood pressure made me dizzy on stage," Roy wrote on a Facebook tribute. "He is greatly missed, however, I have my memories and I know that now he is playing with his brother and sister."
As terrifying as it must have been for Roy following the attack, it's impressive that he held no ill will against Montecore. It's surprising, too, that the tiger went on to live a full life afterward.
Then again, Saff Saffery from the Netflix Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness lost his arm as a result of a tiger attack — and he had a similar reaction. So we suppose it just takes a special type of person to work so closely with big cats in the first place. And Roy is no exception.