For years, Siegfried & Roy claim their animals haven’t been involved in any other attacks. But the truth is shocking, even to people who knew the magicians.
This episode contains graphic descriptions of violence, sexual content, and language that may not be suitable for all listeners. Please be advised. I was at my parents house before I went to work. My mom was a stay at home mom and so she was always there. Scotty Briscoe is a seamstress working on Siegfried and Roy show at the Stardust Hotel and Casino. It’s just there’s something magical about it. Six nights a week. For 10 years I had maybe one week off, but it was like you couldn’t wait to get to work. I never wanted to stop, it was just. I loved it. On this fall afternoon in 1985, Scotty is in her family’s living room, killing time before work when the phone rings. Hello. My mom was pretty much in shock. They said that my dad had been bit by one of the Tigers. Yes. Ladies and gentlemen, the superstars of magic demystifying the Most Outstanding Act in show business, Big Frieda created Rock, Siegfried, and Roy. You had a chunk of your own taken out by a lion. Yes, these are live shows. Do you have to expect the unexpected? We heard one of the stagehands yell cat loose and that for us was absolutely terrifying. I would say that most of us are traumatized. I think it’s had that tragic effect on all of us emotionally anyway. This is wild things Siegfried and Roy. When you got to the hospital, what was the scene like there? I don’t think that I remember seeing any reporters. I can only imagine your mind has to be racing about, you know. How is my dad? What’s his condition like you know. I think I was mowing it around in my brain and what’s going to happen? Is he gonna make it? We weren’t sure. What his condition was. Scotty and her father, Chuck Flannery, used to carpool to work together on his Suzuki motorcycle. It was actually Chuck, who encourages Scotty to join Siegfried and Roy’s costume department. A seasoned stagehand in U.S. Army veteran Chuck moved to Vegas in the early 1960s with his wife Dolores and two daughters including Scotty. My dad worked a lot. You lose stagehand at night. In the daytime he was a mechanic. You know when we were little kids who he’d come home for dinner every night we would say, oh, it’s lucky. Lucky’s home. In the middle of the night he was going to show changes, so like the desert again, or if you just tell us. Around 1975, Chuck begins building sets for Siegfried and Roy. He enjoys working with the duo who also hire crew members to do odd jobs around the Jungle Palace. On that fall afternoon in 1985, before the phone rings and Chuck and Dolores living room. Chuck is building a nice Cape besides Siegfried and Roy’s pool. Scottie won’t learn exactly how a tiger winds up attacking her father until she arrives at the hospital. His best friend was there, John. John was a wreck. He was just devastated Chuck’s friend and coworker John Brown witnesses the attack. He tells Scotty that a huge tiger came up from behind. Chuck grabbed him by the neck and threw her dad into the air. He didn’t have oxygen for seven minutes and he lost a tremendous amount of blood and we had found out that he had actually died and the permit. Expect him back to life. The doctor tells Scotty and her mom that the Tigers razor sharp canine teeth severed Chuck’s left carotid artery and punctured his right artery. He’s treated for massive blood loss. His injuries are so severe that he must undergo emergency surgery. For now, he’s been placed into a medically induced coma to help his chances of survival. Stop. He said he always showed up a little later. Right, it’s just devastated when you say devastated. I mean, it was Roy crime. Roy was crying. Yes, he kept saying he was sorry. I’m so sorry. Did it surprise you that he was there and that he said sorry and was you know, going out of his way, seemingly to make it clear to you folks how he felt it did not surprise me ‘cause Roy always had a lot of compassion, but secret was very angry about the whole thing. She said to Roy, how could you let this happen? As we left the leshko. Does the tiger connect with my dad? So, had he theoretically not dropped the leash, he would have been able to at least hold him back. Whatever happened because their Tigerlily belt and control at that time. It’s amazing how simple that sounds. Well, yeah it is very simple. ‘cause the second you turn your back on and on the wall they feel that freedom and they. It’s like playing with fire. You never know when it’s going to happen. After hours of waiting, Scotty and Dolores received a disheartening prognosis from the doctor’s. They thought he probably wouldn’t live. But I didn’t believe him until they said that he was gone. I’m not going to lose hope. Lying because I pray for him everyday and I believe that God would put him through. Two months later, in December 1985, Chuck remains in a coma around Christmas. Siegfried and Roy send a small tree with ornaments to decorate his hospital room. Scotty and her family visit, often waiting, hoping and praying. Hello hi it’s stuck there. Yeah this is Chuck HF this is Steve liquor that’s actually Chuck after he spent six months in the hospital. Scotty’s prayers are answered. Today, 86 year old Chuck lives in Vegas, not far from Scotty. Beyond permanent damage to his vocal cords, which makes it difficult for him to speak clearly, he is partially paralyzed. It’s remarkable hearing Chuck talk, so matter of fact, Lee, about the tiger who attacked him and altered the course of his life forever. Captured or not, every your friend. Everybody has a cat. Their cats always scratches and bite them. Here’s Chuck’s faint memory of the attack. Roy. Knowledge. He was talking to John and he dropped the leash and want to play I guess, and you didn’t know the cat was wondering so. Yep, that was the hot breath on my back. I went blank. I just that was a blackout. I don’t know what happened. Got it so you felt the hot breath on your neck and after it went black what’s your next memory? They put me in a coma. I couldn’t talk what happened. I couldn’t tell anybody. After getting out of the hospital in 1986, Chuck moves into a rehabilitation facility due to his reduced motor function. He is unable to return to work. Chuck now spends most of his days at home. He sits alone in his living room, rewatching old westerns on television. He’s partial to John Wayne. Chuck tells me that when he looks close enough at his TV, he sometimes notices a thin cardboard backdrop swaying in the wind. It’s a detail that a retired old stagehand can’t help but notice. Scotty enjoys visiting her dad. His attitude about this whole thing has been positive even until the other day. I went down to see him bring him lunch and I’m like how are you feeling goes? I’m just feeling great. That’s his attitude as surprisingly upbeat as Chuck seems. His encounter with Siegfried and Roy Staiger negatively impacts his family. His wife Dolores takes it especially hard. I’ve pretty well devastated over everything ‘cause. Never once again in life, so just very stressed over finding the fact that he was hurt. Your dad said there was insurance money he received via Siegfried, and Roy. Is that not true? Well, that’s something that I’m not allowed to talk about, so I’m not going to elaborate on that. But it’s hard to imagine a situation like this where there wouldn’t be a lawsuit. Yeah, my dad is not the kind of person who wants to hurt him buddy, or pursue anything you know. He just wanted to work something out with them and they didn’t want to do it so. Chuck explains he did pursue a lawsuit, but he says that wasn’t because he felt mistreated or wronged. The lawsuit was just a way of getting access to insurance money. It’s pretty tough for me to understand how Chuck maintains such a positive attitude about Siegfried and Roy in 2003, right after Roy gets attacked by Monocor. Chuck actually tries to visit the magician in the hospital. Not only did Chuck and Roy sustained similar injuries, but the two men were rushed to the same emergency room. Oh yeah, my dad went down to the hospital as soon as he could. I believe my dad just wanted to show him you could make it. You could do it too, just like I did. They refused to let him around Roy. If you had had an opportunity to talk to Roy after his accident, what do you think he would have said to Roy? I would have asked him please go see my dad. What do you think it would have meant to your dad to have had? It would have meant the world to my dad if Roy would have gone to see him ‘cause my dad always thought they’re his friends. And he still thinks to this day that they’re his friends. If you had an opportunity to talk to Siegfried, what would you say to him? I probably wouldn’t say anything stupid. My God. Because if it showed no compassion to my dad. My dad has always been a jolly happy, bouncy Tigger kind of guy. You ask him to do anything. He’ll do it and never hesitate. People didn’t offer to do that back for him. He was always him. Did things for other people. Buyers feel very confident to Pacific, didn’t care about my dad. Do you remember the name of the tiger that attacked you? So. I don’t know what the deal was. And the Tigers name was magic. Our two friends still up there. Have two Siberian tigers and the right is magic and the left is Asherah. Given everything that Chuck experienced simply because of this one tiger, you’d think that the animals name of all things would be something he’d never forget. On the other hand, trauma works in mysterious ways to protect us from painful memories. The human brain has a built-in mechanism for forgetting. It’s called selective or dissociative amnesia, which means certain details can disappear from one person’s memory, while another person who experiences a nearly identical trauma remembers everything. In the circus, you travel in a trailer in the Lions would roar. You’d have, you know, 15 lions going. We need sleep to the roaring of lions. That was my upbringing. Sean Stanek is a former Acrobat turned filmmaker. In the 1970s, when Sean is only 10 years old, he is performing in his Families act called the Seven Alexanders. Sean’s family is featured in the Vegas variety show Hallelujah Hollywood at The MGM. Also on the bill are Siegfried and Roy. Like the German magicians, the Stannic family immigrated to America, being flung high into the air on a regular basis. Sean doesn’t exactly have a normal childhood. For me the scariest trick was a double back to two Manheim being the main flyer for the group so many times. I literally saw the ground coming at me and they would grab me by the feet and stop it like a cartoon. I was, you know, fearless. It was is the operative term. Until April 29th, 1976, and that’s when that fear of everything set in. On this night, Sean is backstage waiting for the show to begin. The seven Alexanders are scheduled to perform before Siegfried and Roy. It was about 15 to 20 minutes before Showtime show rules running around, running around, getting prepared, and there was some stairs leading down to this room. In that room were cages with the animals in it and I heard a crash. And I turned around and a leopard ran by me and it was just shocking and I turned and I looked and the handler was on his back in front of him was leopard and we caught eyes. Now in order for me to get to what I thought at the time was safety my dressing room, my parents. I had to go about 5 feet forward and then to the left to go down a hallway towards my dressing room. And as I scrambled egg youngest thing I heard, it was the leopards. And it got on my back and it just started biting me, just chomping down on my neck. I remember running with it on my back for the few feet that I could handle him because I was £70. I think it was £180.00. I remember looking down and he was just pulling on my chest. the Super fast and he was just trying to tear into me. My mom came out of the dressing room and she ran over and she grabbed my hand. And she’s trying to drag me and then another woman who is a singer. I think she grabbed my other arm and they started dragging me into her dressing room. I was screaming and stuff and blood was spurting everywhere. Doors were slamming, they’re both dragging me on the ground and the leopard jumps off my back and we all kind of fall into some costumes and then it grabs me by my left hand at my forearm so its canines went through my arm. And by that time one of the trainers had grabbed it. The leopard was like. I was in shock and then that pain started setting in and it was wow. It was excruciating. At the hospital, Sean learns that the leopard bit him 14 times. These wounds were mere millimeters from paralyzing him for life. I’m astonished I survived that, you know, and what saved me was the fact that it didn’t have its claws. So thank God he didn’t have his claws because he would have just probably ripped through my heart just ripped me apart. It is unreal listening to Shawn’s experience. What’s striking about that last detail is how throughout their career. Siegfried and Roy maintained publicly that they never remove any of their cats claws. The practice is considered cruel, especially by animal welfare advocates like PETA. But according to court documents related to Shawn’s attack, he’s telling the truth that leopards claws were removed if it weren’t for that, it’s hard to say if 10 year old John would have survived. I learned about mortality from that situation. That was the hard part. After all, the fear that set in psychologically and would have this reoccurring dream. That I instead of going straight, I went right into the Mens room and it followed me in. So psychologically it was really, really horrible for me. Just fear from the world. I was afraid of basketballs bouncing dominated my little brain at the time. But what happened afterward is what’s important. After two months of recovery, Shawn returns to work at The MGM like Chuck, Sean and his family have to sue to get any financial assistance or compensation. Sean claims the duo’s attorneys use the fact that he returns to work against him. That was the reason that I think the case didn’t go any further, or they didn’t take it seriously. We had gone back to The MGM to finish out the contract, and I think they looked at it and they said, hey, there’s there’s nothing wrong with him, he’s fine. And what they didn’t realize was that when I was in the hospital, I was so determined, and so proud. Going back to work was the most important thing. The family is under pressure from MGM with their contract expiring soon. They end up settling. I think the lawsuit was 65,000. Had we gone to court, the judge would have said, hey, that’s that’s a measly sum for what you guys had to endure and then you know we didn’t get it renewed contract. So that was a lot of money that we lost. And then not finding work for a long time or suing Siegfried and Roy and MGM. So you kind of become a pariah in a sense. So we suffered financially and psychologically for quite a long time. As it is for Chuck a decade later, Sean says Siegfried and Roy remove themselves from the situation. He claims they don’t offer further assistance or advocate for the seven Alexanders to remain in the show. But Sean does receive one small gift from the magicians we lived in. A trailer at the time Siegfried came to the trailer with a box of chocolates and a digital pocket watch, which was very cool for the time. To check on me to make sure that I was OK and he said he was sorry and then that was it. That was the only thing we ever got from them in terms of, you know an emotional connection. Sean still has the pocket watch, but it no longer works. Despite Siegfried’s apology, the duo nevertheless try to deflect blame and responsibility. Here’s what happens at Roy’s deposition. Roy told my mother that his leopard was in shock. And it was cold hearted. It was massively cold hearted on. His end and eventually their end. They say if you would have ran he wouldn’t have attacked you. Oh OK, so your 10 year old kid and you see a monster coming towards you. You’re not going to run. It’s on the verge of disgusting, right? It’s obnoxious to blame the kid for being backstage and then blaming the kids parents for bringing him into a risky environment. You had a damn leopard running around. I get it business, but we’ve gone through this mess because you guys failed to put up this gate. You could have put up that gate. There was room to do it and they didn’t do it. According to court documents, two years before Sean was attacked, Siegfried had asked MGM to install a gate backstage to help contain their animals. However, that gate was never installed, meaning a handler holding a leash was the only thing standing between the Leopard and Sean. The fact that both Sean and Chuck’s experiences are swept under the rug and to this day remain largely unknown by the public is infuriating to Sean, especially since Siegfried and Roy are asked point blank if anything like this ever happened. All those years we would watch them on interviews, especially Larry King and and Larry King. You know he says anything ever happened? What’s your insurance like? You must have had access. Actually, we have been very fortunate. Not only did they deny it, but their manager, Bernie Human, goes on to repeat the party line on Larry King days after Roy’s attack. 44 years and never, ever an incident of any kind whatsoever. Those words are like a stab to your victims hearts ‘cause you know you get this thing in the pit of your stomach and you go wow instead of saying hey, look what we do is super dangerous and you know there have been mishaps and we don’t want to really get into it because we’ve taken care of what we had to take care of. But to say you know everything is roses, you know, guess what? When you’re getting attacked there is no magic involved. If I could sit down with him, I would just say, hey. You know, be truthful because you know there are feelings involved here. Before we started working on this podcast, I had no clue about Sean and Chuck’s attacks, and neither did most of the folks we interviewed, including people at the USDA, Law enforcement and even cast members in Siegfried and Roy Show. Like most folks, my impression of the magicians was largely shaped by their media presence. I remember watching news segments where their cats roam freely around the jungle Palace. As if they are as docile as house cats, the reality that one of their tigers attacks someone on that very property cuts directly against this illusion and the fact that a little boy is nearly killed backstage at their show hits me hard as a parent with young children, I just cannot imagine the horror of what Sean’s mom witnessed during our research. We learn that these two attacks did receive some media coverage at the time, but that was years before the Internet, and so the stories mostly disappeared into the. 1/3 I’m not the only person who trusted the narrative. Siegfried and Roy want us to believe this news shocks the man directly responsible for selling them on a core in 1996. No, I never knew about it. You’ve never heard about any incidents over the years. No, that that is the first thing that I’ve heard is Francisco Rodriguez Heron is the former director of the Guadalajara Zoo. In 1996. He sells Siegfried and Roy 3 tiger Cubs, including moniker. When I tell Francisco about Chuck and Sean who were both attacked years before he ever met Siegfried and Roy. He’s not sure what to say. If you had known about either of those incidents, or both of them in 1996 when they first reached out, would that have impacted your decision to sell them tigers? In May, it may close contact with wild animals, could end up with these kind of unfortunate incidents. For years, Francisco is approached by Circus, looking to purchase exotic animals before Siegfried and Roy come calling. Francisco always said no to private buyers, but after sending a veterinarian to inspect their facilities in Las Vegas and receiving a full report with photographs, Francisco decides to make an exception and proceed with the sale. I can understand why he would make that choice given everything he knew at the time he goes out of his way to tell me how nice Siegfried and Roy are. Francisco flies to Vegas with the Tiger Cubs on a multimillion dollar private jet, a Gulfstream 4 which is owned by The Mirage he has put up at a hotel and given tickets to see Siegfried and Roy and Cirque de Soleil. This red carpet treatment certainly sounds appealing. Looking back, I mean, do you think that to some degree you know Siegfried and Roy were? I don’t know. Maybe courting you because they wanted the tigers from you, and that’s maybe why they were so nice. No, I actually, they never asked or requested more tigers from us. And one thing that I have to tell you is that they send their plane not because of me or they sent their plane because the animals were so important for them. But Francisco isn’t the only zoo professional who sells tigers to the magicians and has no knowledge about Chuck and Sean. No, I’m not. I was not aware that there were any other attacks by secret Roy animals, no. Edward Maruska is the former director of the Cincinnati Zoo. Back in the 1980s, he sells Siegfried and Roy, their first white tigers like Francisco. Edward always had a strict policy against selling tigers to private individuals and entertainers. But he is swayed by Roy’s sincerity and expertise. In retrospect, knowing what he knows now would Edward reconsider? If I had to do over what I did by providing them tigers, I obviously would not. And I would not have dealt with them if I had known they were going to expand. The number of animals there use, which I when I saw that I just thought that that was an accident waiting to happen. Because there were just too many animals. In one area for control purposes, when you got a few animals. You know Roy had exceptional abilities handling these animals. I I had no problem with that. He could have handled it, but when you’re dealing with that vast number of animals. It could have been a lot worse. There was no barrier between the audience and the animals could have bounded into the audience, it’s just the potential was there. It’s worth noting that we reached out to all the key players involved in the production of Siegfried and Roy show from The Mirage to Feld Entertainment and their manager, Bernie Human, had the tiger jumped into the crowd. On some level, they would have been in the hot seat. All of these players declined to be interviewed for this podcast. When I last spoke to Bernie on the phone, he said he’ll tell his life story when he’s ready. That conversation happened before I learned about Chuck and Sean, so I contacted Bernie again before we finished this podcast, but he didn’t respond to several messages. It’s possible Bernie The Mirage and Feld Entertainment didn’t comment out of respect for a duo who are famously guarded about their personal life. It’s also likely people don’t want to answer tough questions about safety. But there are other tough questions which need to be asked. Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy reportedly has some trouble keeping his paws to himself. TMZ reports that a video shot in 2010 shows the Las Vegas large cat trainer and performer sexually assaulting physical therapists while in rehab for the tiger attack that nearly killed him in 2003. In September 2010. One of Roy’s personal assistants files a lawsuit alleging that he is sexually assaulted from January to April of that year. This is a very troubling subject and a complicated issue which our team spends a tremendous amount of time and energy researching and discussing. Ultimately, all we can do is examine the paper trail because nobody we contact is willing to go on the record or comment about this part of our story. In court documents, the man who files this lawsuit is identified as Oliver. A German national Oliver moves to Las Vegas in 2008 and is eventually hired to assist Roy, who is partially paralyzed after the tiger attack. Oliver’s responsibilities include grooming Roy, getting him dressed and taking him to doctors appointments. Oliver’s lawsuit alleges that both Siegfried and Roy make sexual advances towards him. The lawsuit states that after Oliver objects, Siegfried stops. However, he claims that Roy’s advances escalate. The allegations are that Roy becomes quote UN quote, more insistent in his demands for sexual contact. Oliver claims that he then experiences a variety of unwanted sexual contact and groping from Roy. As evidence, Oliver points to black and white video footage captured from a hidden camera. Oliver claims that he gets Roy’s permission to install this camera to monitor for theft inside Roy’s bedroom. Despite what that video purportedly shows, the plaintiff does not have success in court. When the first case is presented to a federal judge, it is dismissed mostly on the basis of legal technicalities. The court even sanctions Oliver’s attorneys for making quote UN quote, frivolous, and recklessly unfounded arguments. The judge orders these attorneys to pay part of Siegfried and Roy’s attorney costs nearly $40,000. When Oliver Refiles his sexual assault and battery claims in state court, he’s joined by two other assistants who work for Roy and another assistant who works for Siegfried. All three of these men make similar allegations against the magicians. Siegfried and Roy’s lawyers file a counterclaim, alleging a laundry list of claims, including elder exploitation intrusion. Violation of Nevada’s anti wiretapping statute and breach of contract. The counterclaim states the video footage is obtained illegally. This second case drags on for two years until 2013. At that time, the court dismisses Sigfried’s assistant and his claims for failure to participate properly. Then two of Roy’s assistants settled privately, so the only remaining plaintiff is Oliver. However, his allegations of sexual assault and battery are soon dismissed by a state judge with quote UN quote prejudice, meaning these charges can never be filed again. It’s difficult to understand exactly why this situation plays out the way it does. Especially since our team has the opportunity to view some of the video footage during our research, we stumble upon a YouTube video which appears to show clips of the hidden camera footage referenced in Oliver’s lawsuit the day after we see the video, it is removed. We don’t know who posts the video or takes it down. And at a later date, a shorter version of this clip actually reappears online and remains online at the time of this writing. The video we see includes no audio, so it’s difficult to parse the full context of what exactly occurs on camera, but at one point, a person who looks like Roy appears to grab a man’s hands and place them on his own genitals. In another clip, Roy pushes his body against another person. When that man appears to deny these advances, Roy seemingly whips an oxygen tube at him. All of these images are disturbing, to say the least. In addition to watching the video, we obtain more than 4000 pages of court documents, all related to this case. We contact several attorneys and judges connected to the lawsuits. Journalists who covered the allegations, and a number of the plaintiffs, including Oliver. As I said earlier, not one person agrees to go on the record with us. Based on the video and our initial understanding of what transpires in court, it seems like Oliver’s case resulted in a miscarriage of justice. Perhaps a famous defendant was being given preferential legal treatment from a conservative judge. So we consult a legal expert familiar with the Nevada court system after reviewing the legal documents. That expert explains that the decisions by the court are fair and objective, and here’s why. Beyond agreeing with the judges assessment of quote UN quote, frivolous legal arguments in the first case the expert points to other serious legal issues with the second case in May 2012, Roy’s lawyers discovered that Oliver is trying to sell the hidden camera video to the media, so they apply for a temporary restraining order which the judge grants. The judge then orders Oliver to stop those attempts immediately and turn over all copies of the video to his attorney. But ten months later, that same video appears on YouTube when the judge determines that Oliver is the source of that online video he has found in contempt of court. Contempt of court is a rare and severe sanction in any legal case. The expert we spoke with told us that in this case, contempt was a reasonable outcome given Oliver’s behavior. In his ruling, the judge highlights instances of, quote UN quote deceptive behavior by Oliver, which includes providing false testimony in an evidentiary hearing. In addition, during the discovery phase of the case, Oliver provides only about 15 minutes of footage, which appears to be edited down from the raw video. It is estimated that approximately 700 hours of footage were captured. Which means Oliver either knowingly or unknowingly destroyed evidence according to the judge that missing footage, quote UN quote, fatally impaired. Roy’s ability to defend himself in court. So the court dismisses Oliver’s case with prejudice as a response to Oliver’s conduct. All that being said, you should know Oliver’s allegations are never examined during a trial and the merits of the video are never scrutinized by a judge or a jury. At one point during the course of making this podcast, our producer, Alexander’s aslo makes contact with Oliver and his wife Beatrice who now live in Germany. Although Oliver declines to be interviewed, it is my understanding he may someday share his story on the record. I sincerely hope he has an opportunity to be heard. In the meantime, we only know what the paper trail tells us. We also don’t know Siegfried and Roy side of this story. Neither Roy nor Siegfried are ever deposed as witnesses, and as far as I can tell, they never speak publicly about the allegations. If these allegations were to come out today instead of 2010, it’s likely there’d be a much different reaction from the public as a society. The way we discuss sexual assault allegations, especially those involving wealthy, powerful celebrities, has changed, and so has the media’s willingness to investigate it. So this story might not have quietly disappeared the way that it did. While I can’t say for sure what exactly happened between Roy and his accusers, our team does find something that feels worth mentioning. Around the same time, Oliver files one of his lawsuits, the actor, Gwyneth Paltrow appears on Jimmy Fallon and mentions a New Year’s Eve party where she encounters Roy. I met Roy, by the way. How was he? He’s alright? He asked me to lift up my skirt and he tried to kiss me on the lips. So he’s doing pretty well. This clip isn’t definitive proof of anything, but it does seem to suggest Roy as someone who pushes boundaries. And that’s as much as I can really say about this disconcerting chapter in Siegfried and Roy’s life. There are no definitive answers. But what’s interesting is how these allegations involve a video, one that Siegfried and Roy’s lawyers fight to keep under wraps away from the public and the media. Which brings us back to USDA investigator David Neal. From the beginning of his investigation, David asked to see the tape of the attack. At first he’s told the tape doesn’t exist, then the keepers of the tape refused to give him a copy, citing privacy concerns. And when the tape is finally screened at the USDA offices in Maryland, David is not even invited. Altogether, he spends months sending several subpoenas and even faces the political intervention of a US Senator until one day David gets an unexpected phone call. As I told you earlier, he is invited to the Bellagio where he finally sits down to watch the video. Here’s his complete experience. We ended up in the executive officers, the room that we were brought into was a typical boardroom with a long table and a TV in it. They bring the film in and doors are locked. I didn’t know if we were going to see, you know, basically blood everywhere or whatever. But when we sat down and the someone hit play. And we started watching the video. The quality of the video was good enough. We saw Montecore come onstage. Roy hit my car with a microphone and monicker grab Roy knocked him down. And then drag him off stage and at that time they shut the curtain. Yeah, I know on the surface these straightforward details sound a little underwhelming, especially if you consider just how much effort and time David spends trying to view this tape. But his observations do line up with some of the eyewitnesses we interviewed as well as police Detective Michael Game, who watches the tape months earlier in 2003. So few more or less can see, and you can hear Roy talking to the audience in the music, and he’s walking around and they came to that spot when he taps the nose trying to get his attention back to what he’s supposed to be doing. ‘cause I think Roy perceived something was wrong. I mean, I don’t think he thought that he would be attacked and then all of a sudden. OK, who Roy just went down Tiger just grabbed him. Tiger pulls him off stage and that’s kind of all you see. This leads Michael to the following conclusion. This was just a very unfortunate accident and after looking at everything we did and talking to everybody we did, I believe nobody in the audience or who worked for Siegfried and Roy. Caused the animal to do what it did. I think. The animal instinct kicked in and montecore just reacted in his professional opinion. David agrees. I felt like manic or was scared and didn’t know what actually he had done. But in reality, 9A core was a tiger, a wild animal and that’s what he did. He became a wild animal at that time he didn’t want up the farm that night. There was a tiger being a tiger. Why do you think they went to so much effort to not let you see the tape? I don’t have a clue. Does this have anything to do with Helfeld entertainment? Had issues with the USDA. It could have been. It could have been because they were having problems with USDA, PETA and everybody else. Again, no one from Feld Entertainment agreed to be interviewed for this podcast, so we can only wonder why the USDA’s lead investigator would feel they were resistant to his investigation. Also, the tape only seems to confirm what most people suspected from the beginning Monocor deviated from his routine. So what was going on here? As I explained in our previous episode before, the Tiger attack in October 2003, Feld Entertainment’s relationship with the USDA was already adversarial. I can’t say whether that dynamic played into David’s experience, but I do know that the perceived lack of cooperation and the political intervention from Senator Reed doesn’t sit well with David. It bothers me in the sense that someone had influence the compromised investigation. If you got money, you got another set of rules you can go by, but I was just happy that we finally got to see it and I can get the case written and get it submitted. On September 28th, 2004, just a few days shy of the one year anniversary of Roy’s attack, David submits his 233 page report to the USDA. At the top of Page 3, David writes, quote UN quote there is no barrier to protect the animals from the public or the public from the animals. The tiger was not under direct control during the performance. After receiving the report, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Department decides not to find or discipline Siegfried and Roy or Feld Entertainment. Today Siegfried and Roy’s license is active and their white tigers are still on exhibit at The Secret Garden, which is a stones throw from the pool where hotel guests swim at The Mirage. As an investigator, all of this is out of David’s hands, but as far as he is concerned he did his job. I believe in my own heart that it was as thorough as I could get, with the exception of not having the video in the case as evidence. Is there anything you regret about the investigation? The only thing I regret about the situation is that Roy got attacked, you know, and and luckily enough, nobody else got hurt. David laments another reality about the case. I would say that the video was the very would have been a very good part of the case if we would’ve had the actual video though administrative law judge. But I actually have seen. On the video, what had happened and that there was no barrier. But we had to compromise and had to write. Reports that showed what what people saw. And so watching the video, it became clear to you that there was no barrier and had the tiger decided to let go of Roy. He could have gone into the audience. Yeah, he could have. Really jumped down into the audience. It’s a shame to say, but I’m glad that there’s just one person instead of the whole bunch of folks. If you could sit down and meet Siegfried and Roy and ask them anything, as a human being, but also as an investigator. What would you ask those two guys? I would ask him this in their own words what happened and not give me the line of. BS that they were given out that the tiger was trying to save Roy from a stroke. Do you believe that I think Manicore was just? Having a bad day that day. And that’s kind of the whole thing about these animals. They are unpredictable. They have bad days and those bad days can be very, very bad for bystanders. Which actually ties into something important. David notices in the video. He’s fairly certain that at one point it looks as though Roy actually stops Monocor from jumping into the audience. That moment where he taps monocor on the head with the microphone is seemingly a way of distracting the tiger. After seeing the tape, I do believe that Roy kept the animal from getting into the audience. This observation is actually similar to what casino magnate Steve Wynn shares during his interview on K Last TV when he discusses the woman with a beehive hairdo. It’s also similar to the story Siegfried and Roy’s manager first tells the media days after the attack before the story shifts to Monica or saving Roy from a stroke. Here is what Bernie Human tells Katie Couric. Roy has always protected his audience. I believe that Montecore was was. Are looking in a way that only Roy could detect was not healthy and he did, you know move to put himself between Montecore and and the public and that really put Roy out of his routine. In retrospect, it’s terrifying to think just how close we came to monocor jumping off the stage and into the audience. If Roy did anything to prevent someone in the crowd from being horribly injured or killed, well, to me, that actually makes Roy a hero. On the other hand, if that one USDA inspectors recommendation to install a barrier had been taken, this hypothetical scenario wouldn’t even be on the table either way. If I could talk to Roy and ask him one question. Somewhere at the top of my list would be the following if you did something heroic, why not tell the truth instead? Roy becomes complicit in telling a story about how Monocor was trying to save him from a stroke, so I can only lean into what David and others tell me. While David sees glimmers of heroism on that videotape, it’s important to understand that the tape only captures a few moments on stage. Once Roy and Monochord disappear backstage, there’s a whole other perspective. I mean, anybody that knew that the cat was loose and had Roy ran. Curtis Rowe is the stagehand we heard from at the very beginning of our series on the night of the attack. He is working backstage when he finds himself right in the middle of a horror show. You know, maybe if I would have known what was going on, maybe I would have ran out the exit. I just ran down there to see what the hell was going on. Just a reflex. So Monaco was trying to drag grow into a transport box. And I’m thinking at this one last second. If he gets him into that box, he’s screwed. So what do I do? Well, there was this tail, so I just grabbed him. Now this is when the hell starts. Next time on wild things Siegfried and Roy. Somebody came in and told us that they were locking us in the dressing room. I grabbed moniker budgetel. There was so much so much blood now. One of the men behind the Tigers is speaking out saying what he thinks happened during that infamous incident. While things Siegfried and Roy is an ample original podcast produced by Atwell Media, our producer is Alexanders as low story editors are Matt Hickey and Mandy Gorenstein. Our editor is Rachel Lightner. With help from Andrew Holzberger and Margaret Warner is our associate producer. Adele Sparks is our archival producer, and Ashley Taylor is our line producer. Fact checking by Sona Avakian, our original music and main title are by Robert Kiesewetter, Anjana Bechtolt audio post production by 1000 birds. While things Siegfried and Roy is executive produced and written by me, Stephen Lagarde, our executive producer for Matt will Media is will malnati the Atwill media team also includes Dominique Quebec Way and Ruby be legal services provided by Samuel Bayard and Sean Gordon with representation by Oren Rosenbaum at UTA. Listen and follow on Apple Podcasts.