Siegfried, Roy, and one of their white tigers Siefried and Roy, with one of their tigers

Lions and tigers, oh my

Siegfried to do one-man show?

Roy, of Siegfried and Roy fame, was attacked by one of the tigers while on stage during the show Friday night (3-Oct). According to news reports, the tiger lunged for Roy's throat, Roy fought back using his microphone, then the tiger dragged Roy off stage. Early reports said that it was the tiger's debut performance, but later reports said that that was not true. Roy always told the audience that, presumably to heighten interest and excitement.

This is, of course, a terrible accident, and I don't want to make light of it. But it did set me to thinking.

White tiger showing his teethWhat if? What if you're backstage, waiting for the next cue, and a huge tiger comes off-stage dragging one of the stars of the show? Do you say, "Nice kitty, put the man down"? According to the Las Vegas Sun, they used fire-extinguishers to distract the tiger and rescue Roy. It must have been sheer pandemonium. Is this something they practice?

What if? What if you're a lawyer for the Mirage Hotel & Casino? You must be doing some serious thinking about whether this show ever goes on again. What if the tiger had attacked someone in the audience instead of Roy? Most of the time during the show the tigers are either in cages or tied to the stage with pretty substantial-looking chains. But while they're bringing them on, they're just on a leash. If a tiger decided to attack someone in the audience, there would be absolutely nothing to stop it. The show brings in millions. How much are you willing to risk?

What if? What if you're in the audience? Reportedly some people thought the attack was just part of the show, but others, if you can believe news reports, knew immediately something was terribly wrong. Some in the audience, at least, must have panicked.

I was reminded of the time that I saw the Siegfried and Roy show. It was my second attempt to see the show. The first time, I went to Las Vegas expressly to see the show, only to find after I arrived that the performance had been cancelled. I learned later that evening that I should have been more vocal about expressing my profound disappointment — those who did received all sorts of comps; I just got my money back.

The second time was shortly after 9/11, and Las Vegas was on sale. I walked up to the ticket office and got a seat for that night's performance — first table in one of the seating areas recessed into the apron of the stage. (See sidebar for seating chart.)

At the time, I remember being most concerned about the very large elephant that was led trotting by on my left. What if it fell on top of me? Or, what if it passed gas?

I don't recall being at all concerned when the tigers came on stage. Perhaps I should have been.

It was a fabulous show, worth every penny of the $100+ that it cost.

Now what? What will happen to the tiger? At the moment, it is said to be "quarantined" at the hotel. Do they try to put it back in the show, if and when it reopens? (Performances have been cancelled indefinitely.) Do the tigers talk among themselves? Does this one now become an instigator?

In the case of horses, if one bucks you off, you are usually advised to get right back on, show 'em who's boss. But does the same thing apply when a tiger has tried to rip your throat open?