The tiger that nearly killed Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy in 2003 has died at age 17, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The tiger, Mantecore, bit Horn on the neck during a show at the Mirage. Following the incident, Horn suffered a stroke and brain swelling that left him partially paralyzed and ended his stage career. But he never blamed Mantecore, refuted reports that the tiger "attacked" him, and allowed the tiger to spend the rest of his days between his own estate and the Mirage's Secret Garden of Siegfried & Roy. After the incident, Horn's only stage appearance has been at a benefit in 2009 that actually featured Mantecore, E! notes.
In fact, Horn and entertainment partner Siegfried Fischbacher insist Horn actually suffered the stroke first, and Mantecore was simply trying to drag Horn backstage to protect him. The tiger died last week "after a short illness," according to a press release. Says Horn in a statement, "The world has lost one of its most majestic creatures and I have lost a brother. I will forever believe it was his concern for my safety and well-being that caused him to act as he did on that night long ago." He adds on Facebook, "My lifesaver, 'Mantecore,' ... was the one responsible for pulling me to safety where the Paramedics could help me after my high blood pressure made me dizzy on stage."