A podcast is taking another look at the tiger attack that ended the most popular show on the Las Vegas Strip.
Siegfried and Roy.
It was October 3, 2003, Roy’s 59th Birthday. He was partying like crazy, eating, drinking, and celebrating with friends and his significant other Siegfried. Eight hours later, he’d be on stage, at The Mirage, performing for a sold-out audience with his white tigers.
And that was the night that everything changed. Their 400 pound Bangle Tiger named Mantecore clamped its jaws around Roy’s neck and ripped open his jugular, nearly killing him.
Mantecore dragged Roy off stage by his neck, while the audience looked on in horror.
Backstage, the crew tried to get Mantecore to let go by spraying him with a fire extinguisher, and when that didn’t work, they beat him with it until he finally released Roy, who as you can imagine, was bleeding profusely. It’s a miracle that he survived.
Roy alleged Mantecore was trying to save him. He thinks he had a stroke on stage and Mantecore was trying to take him away to safety. Experts disagree and say the tiger was going for a “kill bite.”
Just before the incident, Roy had bopped Mantecore on the head with his microphone when he did something wrong, so perhaps the tiger felt threatened or angry.
But now a podcaster is exploring some wild new theories that perhaps it wasn’t an accident at all.
Maybe it was attempted murder, and Steve Wynn, the owner of the Mirage, also got in on the conspiracy fun.
The New York Post reported that “there were theories that it was not an accident and that somebody triggered the tiger,” Steven Leckart told The Post. He’s the executive producer and host of the Apple TV+ podcast, “Wild Things: Siegfried & Roy,” which premieres Jan. 12 and zeros in on the tragic night. “You wonder why somebody would try to turn a tiger against a magician.”
Among the possibilities floated in the podcast: Animal activists seeking revenge, someone attempting to financially hobble the city of Las Vegas and even homophobia.
“It was viewed as a potential hate crime,” Leckart said. “[Authorities] have to explore lots of possibilities, no matter how far-fetched. Motives that were explored seemed bananas — and they are.”
The Mirage received an email which read: “If there is audio & video of the tiger attack it should be analyzed for far-UV and or high ultra-sonics, as well as other triggers that might be the work of a terrorist aiming at a high profile GAY target.”
That tip, like others, was included in a government report.
Said Leckart: “It was the wildest case investigators ever worked on.”
Almost immediately after the mauling, Las Vegas Metro Police Department arrived on the scene and began to sift through evidence.
“They viewed it as an actual crime. There were crime scene investigators, like on the ‘CSI’ TV shows,” said Leckart. “The USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] had a person going undercover and the Homeland Security Division got called in. Investigators spent a lot of time on it.”
Michael Game, who was the Sergeant of Counter Terrorism for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, reveals his directive in the podcast: “Did someone in the audience do something to cause the animal to react the way it did and can we prove it? That was the bottom line, plain and simple. That was how we approached the investigation.”
Nearly two months were devoted to performing background checks on people who attended or worked on the show — and, reportedly, the tiger.
Mirage owner Steve Wynn even jumped into the fray of conspiracy theories.
Wynn pointed out a strange woman from the audience — tall and with a skyscraping beehive hairdo — and wondered if her height might have distracted the tiger.
But then detectives working on the investigation took the tall lady lead a step further.
“The theory was that this woman smuggled a scent in her hairdo. After all, who will check a woman’s hair for a small spray bottle?” Leckart said. “The thinking was that there was a pheromone or exotic animal urine that was used to distract the tiger.”
There is also a theory that it was Roy himself that was omitting a strange smell, thanks to all the partying that he had done only eight hours before, and perhaps that triggered the tiger.
But in the end, what is most likely is that Mantecore did attack Roy, and tried to kill him. Insiders close to the Vegas duo said that Roy had grown very distant from the animals that he was once so close to. He started treating them like “props” not pets, and that the animals, in kind, began relating to him differently as well.
Mantecore continued living with Siegfried and Roy and died in 2014.
Roy died in 2020 from complications due to COVID, and Siegfried died last year from pancreatic cancer.
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