S&R put on a performance of cats

Siegfried & Roy, at home with white tiger cubs.
Photo: John Katsilometes

For decades, Siegfried & Roy have saved white tigers. Today the white tigers are, in a sense, saving Roy. That was part of the message on a sunny Thursday afternoon as Siegfried & Roy introduced five white tiger cubs to a handful of media types at the legendary magicians’ Las Vegas estate, which sits famously just an 8-iron across from Las Vegas Municipal Golf Course.

“This it the best rehab,” Roy called from a couch placed in the courtyard of the duo’s home. Siegfried reiterated that message a few minutes later during a give-and-take with the invited media after the photo opportunity, saying, “They lifted Roy’s spirits during rehab.” As photos were snapped, Roy (who did not field any questions) sat on one corner of the sofa and played with the energetic and obviously well-fed 6-week-old cubs, which weigh 15 pounds each. Siegfried stood behind, and whenever the adventurous cats ambled toward the crew standing behind the roped-off barrier several feet away, two trainers in blue jump suits would scoop up and return them to the couch. The cats are already a handful; the female trainer sported a fresh scratch under her left eye.

The tigers – four female white tigers and one orange male – are to be moved today to the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage, an event that also marks Siegfried’s 69th birthday. The only cat to be named so far is the male, Svengali, dubbed such because he is the lone male who lords over the female cats. “A womanizer,” is how Siegfried put it. The duo says they plan to involve students in the Clark County School District to name at least one of the cubs.

As Mirage President Scott Sibella said, the Secret Garden remains a popular attraction at the hotel – about 4,000 visitors walk through the Garden each day. Sibella said that Siegfried & Roy themselves visit at least once every two weeks, and often weekly. “Sometimes you get lucky and catch them out there,” he said. “It’s an awesome treat.”

S&R have announced that they will make a comeback appearance in February at the next Lou Ruvo Brain Institute “Keep Memory Alive” gala. It is to be their first public performance since Roy was dragged offstage by the big cat Montecore during a show at The Mirage on Oct. 3, 2003. When I asked Siegfried if white tigers would be featured in that appearance, he paused before saying, “I don’t want to say (laughs). Oh, God. C’mon. We’re going to appear, and do whatever it takes. You know, whatever it takes. … we will do what the time will tell us.”

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