Montecore the Tiger’s Death: How Did He Die?

Montecore

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Montecore the tiger, known infamously as the white tiger who left Roy Horn with life altering injuries during an attack onstage in 2003, died of natural causes at age 17 in 2014.

Tragically, Horn died Friday May 8, 2020, after a battle with COVID-19.

Montecore was a 400-pound white tiger who was a frequent performer with Siegfried & Roy. The tiger’s name is sometimes spelled Mantecore. The tiger became infamous for attacking Horn during a show at The Mirage Resort and Casino in the Las Vegas strip on Roy’s 59th birthday, October 3, 2003. Both Siegfried and Roy have contended the tiger did not attack Roy. They say the tiger was reacting to Roy suffering a mini-stroke and saved him by taking him to safety where paramedics could give him aid. Roy posited the story again when he announced on Facebook the tiger died March 19, 2014.

“My lifesaver, ‘Mantecore’, 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,” he wrote.

A doctor involved with Horn’s care told the Las Vegas Sun in 2003 the magician suffered a major stroke after the attack, leaving him paralyzed.

ABC 20/20‘s Siegfried & Roy: Behind the Magic originally aired September 27, 2020 as the season 42 premiere. The episode is airing again Friday, April 17, 2020 at 9 p.m. EST.

Here’s what you need to know:


Montecore the Tiger Died From an Illness at Age 17, Within the Average Lifespan of a Captive Tiger

Montecore, whose name is also spelled Mantecore, died at age 17. Multiple news outlets reported the tiger died from “an illness,” but did not specify what that illness was. A white tiger in the wild has a life expectancy of about 12 years, according to Tigers.org.

“Those in captivity are more protected and have their medical needs seen to and are, therefore, likely to live longer,” the website said.

Tigers occasionally live up to 26 years in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Federation. Surviving to adulthood in the wild at all is difficult, though. Only about half of tiger cubs live more than two years, the federation’s website said.

Montecore lived out his last days at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at Mirage Las Vegas, more commonly known as the Secret Garden. The Secret Garden allows visitors to come face-to-face with some of Siegfried & Roy’s animal performers, including white tigers, leopards and white lions. The Secret Garden also includes a dolphin habitat with bottlenose dolphins. The newest addition to the Secret Garden is a baby bottlenose dolphin born to Bella the dolphin on August 16, according to the website. Siegfried and Roy today often visited the Secret Garden and perform impromptu magic acts for guests.


Roy Horn Described the Tiger as his ‘Lifesaver,’ Contending Montecore Did Not Attack him But Saved Him

Roy Horn has contended Montecore, or Mantecore, the white tiger did not attack the magician, but acted quickly to save him.

He wrote on Facebook:

It is with great sorrow that I am writing you this note today that on March 19, 2014 in the early afternoon our beloved 17 year old White Tiger Friend and Brother, ‘Mantecore’ left us and is now with his siblings in White Tiger heaven. My lifesaver, ‘Mantecore’, 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. He is greatly missed, however, I have my memories and I know that now he is playing with his brother and sister.

I remember that when someone passed away my Mother always said, ‘They never really leave us they just go ahead’. For me, without ‘Mantecore’ the Secret Garden feels empty; however, there are still 11 more White Tigers and 2 White Lions to remind us of our Ark of Noah – not to forget our 2 Black and 6 Spotted Leopards! Spring is in the air, so things could change as we have at least 2 females who are of age for breeding giving me hope for a New Generation.

The incident on October 3, 2003, ended the careers of Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn, and left an audience of 1,500 horrified as they watched the 400-pound tiger bite Horn and drag him offstage. It was Roy’s 59th birthday when the tiger attacked him.

The case was officially closed in 2004 with no official determination of what provoked the tiger to attack, according to CBS News. It left Horn partially paralyzed after damaging an artery that carries blood to his brain and crushing his windpipe.

Earlier this year, trainer Chris Lawrence told The Hollywood Reporter Horn did not spend enough time with the tiger to bond before the show, and made alterations to the routine without practicing with the tiger. He said he encouraged Roy to perform with Montecore at the show instead of a cub, a moment which still haunts him.

“This moment haunts me to my core and plagues me with overwhelming guilt,” Lawrence told The Hollywood Reporter. “I actually talked Roy into using the tiger that would ultimately maul him and end the most successful stage show in the history of Las Vegas.”

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