Chris Lawrence, one of the many animal trainers formerly employed by Siegfried and Roy, claims that the story we were fed for 15 years about Roy Horn’s tragic tiger attack is false. At the time, Siegfried and Roy claimed that Roy had suffered a stroke onstage. The tiger that attacked him, Mantacore, wasn’t attacking Roy. He was trying to save him. But Lawrence was onstage that night, and says that Horn made a near-fatal error in his handling of Mantacore. He told The Hollywood Reporter that Horn had been neglecting his animal-handling duties prior to the attack. “Many of the handlers thought that Roy was treating the cats more like props than he was respecting them for who they were,” he said. “That can only work as long as there are no variables, which is impossible considering that you’re dealing with a living, thinking animal. I am positive that Roy’s diminishing relationship with Mantacore was a key factor in the attack.”
On the night of the attack, incidentally also Roy’s birthday, Lawrence suggested Mantacore as the animal to perform. He says he is haunted by that decision to this day. Mantacore started acting aggressively almost immediately. Lawrence claims Horn steered the animal in such a way that his torso was open to attack. That was when Mantacore struck. Lawrence was one of many who worked to get the tiger off Roy, and thought for a moment that he would die. “I remember experiencing a crippling guilt over the thought that I was going to be leaving my children without a father and cause them unimaginable pain that they were too young to understand,” he told the Reporter. Lawrence’s account was left out of the report to the USDA, and Siegfried and Roy sent out a statement that did not line up with his memory of the event. Lawrence is speaking out now because Siegfried and Roy are making a biopic which will detail the attack, and he wanted to set the record straight before it was released.