In retrospect, it’s kind of crazy that there was a high-profile Las Vegas show featuring live tigers on stage each night. This was the world of Siegfried & Roy, a German magician duo who drew enormous crowds to the Mirage Resort and Casino throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. But, as pretty much everyone knows by now, their story ended in tragedy in 2003 when Roy was attacked and nearly killed by a white tiger named Montecore.
Now Apple TV’s eight-part podcast Wild Things: Siegfried & Roy aims to take us backstage for the real story, using the 2003 attack as a jumping-off point to tell an absolutely bonkers-sounding true-crime story. The Guardian has the grisly details:
Montecore bites Roy through the neck, slicing his vertebrae and severing an artery that cuts off the blood to the right side of his brain. He drags Roy about, coating the stage in so much blood that one onlooker says: “I’m thinking to myself, ‘He’s gone. He’s not going to make it, man.’ This was f*cking hell on earth.” Another shocked voice says: “It took four men and a fire extinguisher to get the tiger off him.
Things only get crazier from there. While bleeding out, Roy gasps a plea to save the tiger and is rushed to the hospital. The police then arrive, and an investigation begins into whether this tiger attack might actually have been attempted murder. The story then moves into investigating animal rights activists, homophobes, ultrasonic tiger manipulation devices, and “a woman near the stage with a large beehive hairdo.”
The show also explores the controversy over animal welfare issues and contains a lot of juicy information that has never been made public before. This is billed as “shocking and disturbing”, potentially only able to be revealed now that both performers have died (Siegfried from pancreatic cancer in January 2021 and Roy from COVID-19 in May 2020).
Podcast host Adam Leckart explains that:
“We would just find new and wild bits of information at every turn. What’s even more bizarre is the separate investigation into animal cruelty by the USDA. The twists and turns of where that goes is bananas.”
The first two episodes are now available, with six more to follow in subsequent weeks. The show is available to stream on Apple Podcasts, though is also available to Spotify subscribers. As a story that sits perfectly at the intersection of true crime and pop culture, this sounds like a winner.