One day ago The Hollywood Reporter reposted an article that was written a little over a year ago! In the two seconds it took to read the title, “The Tiger and the Tragic Trick: Siegfried & Roy’s Animal Handler Breaks Silence on Mauling, Alleges Cover-Up,” I realized why THR posted such an old story. And in the time it took you to read what I just wrote, you’ve probably figured it out, too: tigers.
Currently, there is nothing more ubiquitous than conversations about tigers. Of course, this has nothing to do with the Siegfried & Roy tragedy, and everything to do with Joe Exotic, and the rest of the cast in Netlix’s hottest series to date: Tiger King.
Because I’ve watched this train wreck, and have seen enough Tiger King memes to carry me into October, I won’t waste another minute of your time with tiger talk. Well, at least not in the case of Joe Exotic.
And if you happened to miss the THR story I referred to at the outset, look it up. It’s an interesting story about Siegfried & Roy’s head animal trainer, Clarence Lawrence, who risked his life to save Roy Horn during the viscous tiger attack the entertainer sustained onstage in Vegas in 2003.
Incidentally, Horn, who was celebrating his birthday on the night of the attack, did not — contrary to popular belief — suffer a stroke before Mantacore — a 7-foot-long, 400 pound striped white male tiger – mauled him. The stroke came after.
That tragedy, the Tiger King series, and a local tragedy, which I’ll get to in a moment, got me thinking about the first time I saw a live tiger. My guess is that it either occurred during a Ringling Bros. show in the 1970s, or at Marine World – when the park was still located about 40-minutes up the highway from San Jose in Redwood Shores. Wherever it was, it’s not what I remember most about the circus or Marine World.
At the former I was more interested in the guy who rides a motorcycle inside a metal sphere; at the latter I preferred playing games and watching the water ski show. I didn’t have too much interest in the tigers, or any of the animals for that matter, the killer whales notwithstanding.
In one of my more embarrassing moments at Marine World, I inadvertently interrupted a tiny monkey in an enclosure who, for lack of a better way to put it, was alone, playing with his own. Where the phrase “spanking the …” comes from is anyone’s guess.
Back to more important things.
My lack of interest in tigers didn’t have anything to do with the animals per se; it had more to do with my interest in watching humans engage in death-defying stunts. Today, shows like Cirque du Soleil have added to my intrigue.
I’ll table the reasons why I’m against animals in captivity for now, but I will say that for me, the cons far outweigh the pros. Moreover, tragedies – to animals, trainers and guests – can be prevented if animals had less human contact. You may recall, on Christmas day in 2007, when a 250-pound Siberian tiger escaped from its grotto and attacked three youths from San Jose, killing one of them in the process. The tiger, sadly, was also killed.
While part of me wants to move past the likes of Joe Exotic, and preventable animal tragedies, and get back to talking about more important matters, another part of me feels that perhaps we need things like this to divert our attention away from the reality of life’s challenges during this time.
Whatever we need, I do know one thing: Carol Baskin killed her husband.by