Tiger's Tale

I know I'm supposed to be worried about Roy Horn, but I can't stop thinking of the tiger. Ever since Montecore, the 7-year-old white tiger, dragged half of Siegfried and Roy off the stage by the neck, I have to admit I've been wondering more about the beast's eventual recovery. All we know is that the creature is being quarantined at the hotelwhat will become of him remains a mystery apparently not worthy of public sentiment. Entertainment Tonight, never one to pass up a heartbreaking story, treated us to a segment called "Letters to Roy," a collection of deeply felt notes from viewers to the wounded showman, but where was "Missives to Montecore"? At least a disciplined, devoted Roy, despite the devastating injury to his throat, reportedly managed to croak, "Don't kill the cat," as he was rushed to the hospital, where he is still in critical condition; very few others have said a word.

If the 59-year-old Horn recovers, he'll have the world welcoming his return. What does ol' Montecore get? Montecore won't be greeted with chocolate hearts and embroidered pillows from relieved well-wishers. Montecore won't receive a hero's fanfare at the Mirage if things return to normal. The media won't help him out: There will be no apologetic comeback cover of People magazine on which Montecore is seen shrugging his shoulders and looking appropriately sheepish under the headline "Whoops! I Was Only Playing: A Tiger's Tale of Regret." I don't see any ironic Hollywood Squares appearances in his future, either.

Let's try to see this from the tiger's point of view. Imagine, if you will, being born a rare beast in a town that cares more about sustaining the career of Sheena Easton than it does animal conservation. Imagine having the instinct to run wild on some foreign continent with other exotic creatures, but instead being forced to live like an entertaining house cat in a Nevada desert with two plasticine Germans. Imagine being a 600-pound genetic freak, wondering why you can't roam free when there's a guy just down the Strip who's making a living impersonating Joan Rivers and nobody tries to keep him indoors.

We're told that none of the 63 other cats in the Siegfried and Roy show "have ever shown aggression onstage." Surebut does anybody really know what the cats contemplate in their private moments? I'm sure after years of submission and posh domestication, I'd be plenty cooperative beneath the proscenium arch, too, but it doesn't mean that once I hit the green room backstage I wouldn't occasionally be turning to my fellow performer and mumbling, "I swear to God, Montecore, the next time that brunette pushes it, it's all over."

I'm as much a fan of kitschy, exotic extravaganzas as the next guy. Tell me that Rue McClanahan is doing a one-woman walk down memory lane with a bunch of high-kicking chorus boys as backup, and I'll be there shuddering right along with the rest of the gals. There's something to be said for over-the-top, lowbrow spectacle. But I've long since lost whatever taste I had as a child for circuses or Sea World-ian entertainments in which otters are forced to walk and carry purses like Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen. Maybe we should take Montecore's mistake as a sign that it's time for us to keep the other animals out of our sequined embarrassments.


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