So long, Mantecore. Siegfried and Roy's beloved white tiger Mantecore, who notoriously mauled Roy Horn onstage over a decade ago, has died from an illness. The tiger was 17, Horn announced on the German illusionist duo's Facebook page Tuesday, March 25.
Mantecore had been residing at the Siegfried & Roy Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage hotel-casino in Las Vegas.
"It is with great sorrow that I am writing you this note today," Horn, 69, wrote in his Facebook post. "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."
While recalling the October 2003 mauling incident, Horn called Mantecore his "lifesaver," saying that the tiger had pulled him to safety after his high blood pressure kicked in onstage. Horn added that the two "were even," because he had saved the tiger's life as a cub on two separate occasions.
"Mantecore was one of a litter of three cubs born to a first time Mother," Horn recalled. "She was able to care for the first two babies, but by the time Mantecore arrived, she was so exhausted she wasn't paying any attention to him. Without thinking twice I went into her space and got slowly closer; his umbilical cord was still attached, so I pinched it off with my fingernail and scooped him and placed him near her, and then she started to lick him." Horn later returned to the den to find the baby tiger near death. After performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the runt, Horn took him home, where he was raised. "I saved his life and then he saved mine, so we were even."
Mantecore eventually became a starring act in Siegfried & Roy's long-running Vegas act, which closed for good after the 2003 mauling incident. During a live sold-out show, the tiger went for Horn's neck. By the time medical officials arrived, Horn had lost a significant amount of blood and was in critical condition.
He never fully recovered, but has remained insistent on Mantecore's good intentions following the attack. Both Horn and his partner Siegfried Fischbacher, 74, have stated that the tiger could sense his owner was having a stroke, and that the mauling came about as he attempted to help.
According to the Associated Press, after two years, investigators were unable to determine precisely why the tiger reacted violently.
"The flags at Little Bavaria are flying at half-mast," Horn wrote Tuesday. "Thank you everybody for listening -- do not feel sad, I have wonderful memories."
"Farewell my dear friend," he said to Mantecore. "Know that your image is forever burned into my heart."