Vegas Tiger Attack Inevitable?

A woman wears a 'Siegfriend and Roy' shirt during a candlelight vigil at University Medical Center in honor of Roy Horn on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2003 in Las Vegas. Horn remains in critical condition at UMC after being mauled by a tiger during a performance on Friday. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch) AP

It took more than 30 years, and 30,000 flamboyant performances, but what finally happened during the 'Strip's' most famous show may have been inevitable.

Roy Horn, of Siegfried & Roy, was rushed to the hospital after being mauled in front of a sold out crowd by his 550-pound white tiger.

"He looked like a rag doll in his mouth. I mean, that thing just had him by the kind of shoulder and the face and just dragged him off stage," Kurt Baser, a witness, told CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan.

It is not the first time one of the rare animals has attacked.

Another tiger attack linked to Siegfried & Roy occurred in 1985 when a man said he had suffered brain and spinal cord injuries after one of the captive tigers lunged at him during a visit to the performing duo's estate.

They are the kind of attacks wild animal experts always fear. "All these cats have good and bad days, they have no inhibitions," says Louis Dorfman, an animal behaviorist.

Dorfman is confident enough even to sleep with tigers. But trust he says, can only go so far. "With a wild animal, it's never tamed, it's never trained, it's never domesticated," he says.

Attacks like these have made the news time and time again — a grim chronicle of what animal rights groups argue is only natural behavior.

Just this past weekend, a Bengal tiger that was kept as a pet in a small Harlem apartment was hauled away over the weekend for attacking his owner.

"These tigers are killers. Even though they are gentle creatures they have the emotions we have, they'll kill you," says James Galbreath of the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary.

Galbreath runs a sanctuary for exotic pets who have worn out their welcome, and says there are now more big cats in captivity than there are in the wild.

Tonight, the fascination with those who appear able to tame the wild has turned to grief.

It's the kind of gamble even Las Vegas isn't used to seeing lost.

  • Brian Dakss

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