Why would a presumably "tame" tiger suddenly attack?

I know, I know, “Ask the tiger.” But one would think that after being born with a human “father” as the only one it has ever known, and then raised and trained by humans, specifically Roy Horn, what would prompt an animal that has done hundreds of shows doing the same thing, day in, day out, no surprises, to suddenly try to kill–not love bite–its owner?

Well, I can’t speak for the tiger and I’m sorry about what happened, but I probably would have done the same thing if I’d been part of the show:D

Jokes aside, I can understand an elephant turning rogue–an accumulated memory of mistreatment, perhaps, coming to a head–but elephants are light-years more intelligent than tigers, to whom I would attribute less intelligence than your average rabbit (lucky there are no 600 lb. rabbits).

I don’t think the tigee tried to kill him. If it was actually trying to kill Roy, then he would be dead.

Well, it’s probably not “tame”, really, as you’re probably aware. I’d honestly like to know myself, but the only thing I can find printed is that the tiger was “distracted by something in the audience”.

I mean, if my cat is “distracted” by something, she’s perfectly capable of freaking out, and as a “domesticated” cat, more commas and quotation marks, more! she’s supposedly more tame than a tiger’ll ever be. But I know that if little Sheba was 10 times bigger I’d own a much better stocked first-aid kit than I do now.

There are no tame tigers. I don’t think there is an animal handler alive that would disagree with that statement. Anyone who bets their life that there is such a beast is liable to end up as tiger poo.

Because it is a tiger.

Fear Itself hit it on the head, I think. Watch the documentary Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control for a very interesting interview with an animal trainer. He emphasizes that you always have to keep on your toes when in the ring with them because they are always looking to re-establish their dominance over you.

Add to that what Nanoda said, and you have yourself a very dangerous way of making a living. The fella in the documentary related an interesting story regarding a Pop Corn machine and how it drove one animal nuts whenever it was running, even though he could not hear it. The only solution, after he figured out what the problem was, was to tell the vending guy not to run the popcorn machine during his performance.

[/Richard Dawson voice]

Show me tiiiiiiiigerrrrrrr!

Ding, ding, ding.

Number one answer!!!

[/Richard Dawson voice]

How much domestication does it take to breed the “wild” out of an animal? Surely if they had been housepets for 100 years, the offspring’d be at least a little tame. Seems like if you did it long enough, you’d end up eventually with “house-tigers”

Tigers are only as smart as a rabbit? I’d give them a little more credit than that.

Having said that, I would imagine the tiger in question picked up on a cue or physical action Roy made that means nothing to us but means a lot to a tiger. It’s easy to forget that animals do not perceive body language the way we do; presumably Roy did something that triggered the tiger’s “Time to be the dominant one” behaviour, and whammo.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the tiger was not trying to kill Roy. As Joe points out, if it had wanted to kill him, believe me, he’d have been as dead as a doornail in about ten seconds. Tigers are incredibly fast and immensely strong and I sincerely doubt a man would even see it coming, much less survive it. It was doing what felines do when they’re pissed and reestablishing dominance - grabbing the competitor by the neck, a dominance display for a cat, reminiscent of what their mothers do when they’re kittens. (If you want to show your cat you’re pissed at it, grab it by the scruff of the neck. They get the message.) It’s meant to show off strength, dominance and authority, not kill or even seriously harm the target; hell, MY cats do that. The problem is that in this case it wasn’t one animal displaying to another animal of roughly equal size; it was a 600-pound monster grabbing a 140-pound man. What would have been little more than an embarassment to another tiger was deadly to a human.

You cannot tame a tiger, though they are used because they’re easier to work with than lions.

A tiger has inbred natural instincts that cannot be trained out of it, unlike a dog which through selective breeding these undesirable traits have been removed.

Damn straight. A tiger is never truly “tame”, and one best remember that.

In fact, not only am I not surprised, I’m wondering-where there previous attacks by tigers?

I’ll second Fear Itself (ok, and others); wild animals are just that, no matter how they are raised.

Also, wild tigers only stay with mom (not dad, he may kill them) for about three years, the show tigers’ instinct may be contradictive to their current lifestyle (could it be they’re just confused? :)). I also agree that if a tiger wants you dead, you’re kitty chow - so this attack seems more like a spooked-kitty-reaction on steroids than an actual attack.

Though it would seem we are not their preference,tigers have been known to attack people in the past (though rare, it never worked out well for the attack-ee). They will also fight for dominance with other tigers when they meet (usually not to the death - for a tiger, anyway). They are big and powerful (but we knew that) - even a “love bite” during their play could bring down a person. This is not something you just “breed out”; even if they became less likely to attack us (through intent), they would still present a significant danger to us; think about “tame” dogs that are tough to handle, now add 500 lbs, bigger teeth (etc.). Even more, once they realized that our bodies are soft and squishy, all of that training is moot.

Overall, I really don’t see the surprise in this situation: A person, who is basically sirloin, stands next to one of the most powerful carnivores on the planet… and he is bitten. :smack: Sad, but not surprising.

MC Master of Ceremonies

Why can’t you remove these traits as in dogs?

We’ve been breeding dogs for more than 10,000 years as domestic animals - and we STILL have occassional dog attacks on humans, dogbites are one of the most (if not the most) common animal-caused human injuries, and dogs are both smaller than us and evolved a hierarchical social system in their packs that humans have exploited to control them.

Tigers, on the other hand, have not been reliably bred in captivity until the 20th Century (and even so, it’s a tricky business to get them to do the nasty successfully), they DON’T have a social structure to speak of in the wild, they’re a lot bigger than us, and, frankly, in the natural state we’re food to them. Bascially, Roy Horn is like your cat’s squeaky-toy teaching Puss-N-Boots to perform cute tricks.

I don’t think the tiger intended Mr. Horn any real harm - if it had, it could have bitten his head off. But it’s a tiger - a big, powerful predator. It could cause you major damage just by sitting on you, much less grabbing you by the throat with its teeth.

As I type this, Entertainment Tonight weighs in for the first time. No more Siegfried & Roy! Still, there are a couple of other bozos doing the same thing in Vegas.

As usual, the SD board has all the good answers. I am also inclined to the theory that something in the audience triggered some unknowable response in the animal, or even Roy himself behaved slightly differently.

I also accept that the tiger didn’t mean to kill him. With all the cats I’ve ever had (a lot) there were some “bitey” ones and some non “bitey” ones, but some things were automatic triggers for biting in a lot of them–like touching them in the middle of the back.

Some were quite vicious too, doing the “burrowing” action with the hind legs in addition to biting (a vestigial “disembowelling” reflex?) I would amuse myself by displaying the numerous track marks all over my forearm to my friends, occasionally.

But I know when a cat is biting because it means business, and none of the cats I’ve ever had did that, otherwise it would be stitches instead of scratches. Translated to 600 lbs. and it would be curtains.

It’s remarkable that they didn’t have safeguards, such as a man standing by with a .357 Magnum to terminate the tiger at close range.

For the record, I think using any animals for human entertainment is quite sick and those who participate should expect their just rewards. Anyone who equates using an animal in little better than a circus act is the least qualified to be boasting about his “love” for the animals or his “efforts at conservation.” He’s a freak-show host with enslaved animals as his freaks and would do better to admit it.

Well, there’s the things mentioned about dogs having a very heirarchical structure that lets the human establish himself/herself as the alpha dog to good effect, and the thousands of years of killing or running off the most aggressive dogs. Then there’s the fact that wolves aren’t really aggressive animals anyway. They’ve gotten a bad rap from hunting the livestock that ranchers were raising. I’ve read that there aren’t any reported cases of wolves just attacking without being teased or threatened, unlike tigers, alligators, etc.

Oh, and American alligators are apparently just not as mean as crocodiles, either. No, they’re not the same thing with a different name.

I think “mean” as applied to animals is just an anthromorphic misquotation. As far as I know, there isn’t a single animal on Earth except humans that can fall under the human concept of “mean” unless it’s from our mirroring of our own behaviour. You probably meant “ornery” :slight_smile:

By “mean” in this case, I assume you mean “acting aggressively towards humans.” I guess the term is a convenient one–for lack of another–to describe what we humans consider alarmingly protective/aggressive behaviour usually directed against ourselves. Gods help us if any animal could grasp the true meaning of “mean”. (If there were an animal eqiuvalent, I suspect it would be a collective ant colony.)

Don’t mean to hairsplit. As far as I know, PETA does not yet troll these boards.

I have known even “TAME” dogs to bite people. One thing I hate is when people say “My dog would never bite anyone.” It is an animal still and if it has teeth it is capable of biting.

I had a cat an every once in a great while I would be play fighting, my hand against her body and it would go out of hand. Not often but every so often. The claws went a little too deep or she didn’t let go.

And these are domesticated. Multiply that by 1000 times and even a friendly playful cat is now deadly.

Broomstick got it. The tiger might have been “human habituated” or maybe even tame (whatever that means), but it wasn’t domesticated. Dogs have been bred for domestication at least for 15k years, and maybe 2 or 3 times that much.

Don’t confused “domesticated” with “tame”. Tame just means a wild animal that is used to humans. It still has all it’s wild insticts intact.

None of the posts has addressed the *real[i/] issue: The rampant homophobia within the Great Cat community.

Sorry, couldn’t resist