It is "all but miraculous" that entertainer Roy Horn is alive and able to communicate after being bitten in the neck by a 600-pound tiger, his doctor said Tuesday.
Horn of the "Siegfried & Roy" show, was able to move his feet and hands, and is responding to treatment, Dr. Derek Duke said at a news conference at University Medical Center where Horn was hospitalized after Friday's attack.
Horn, 59, remained in critical condition with a severe neck injury. He lost a large amount of blood in the attack, doctors said, and later had a stroke.
Duke disputed reports that Horn was in a drug-induced coma, and said it will be some time before the extent of Horn's recovery will be known.
"A contributing factor to his current condition is his extraordinary will and strong physical attributes," Duke said, reading from a prepared statement. "These are significant elements in his ability to recover."
Horn was attacked by a Royal White tiger named Montecore during Friday's sold-out show at The Mirage hotel-casino. The illusionist was alone onstage with the tiger when it latched onto his arm. After Horn tried to free himself by tapping the tiger on the head with a microphone, the animal lunged at his neck and then dragged him offstage as 1,500 people in the audience watched.
Show workers set off fire extinguishers backstage to distract the tiger, which initially refused to release the performer. Horn underwent emergency surgery late Friday and had another surgery to relieve pressure on the brain.
Siegfried and Roy's longtime manager said he is optimistic Horn will recover.
"Every second of every minute of every hour of every day that passes increases his chance of survival," Bernie Yuman said Tuesday. "He has the will of a thousand men."
Yuman said Horn is able to communicate, but Yuman would not answer questions about whether Horn can speak.
"He understands the circumstances. He is totally aware that he is fighting for his life," Yuman said.
For years, Horn and Siegfried Fischbacher have performed their animal/magic act, consistently drawing sold-out crowds. The duo signed a lifetime contract with The Mirage in 2001.
Yuman said Horn and Fischbacher had performed shoulder-to-shoulder for 44 years, most of that time spent on the Las Vegas Strip.
"When you go to New York City, you see the Statue of Liberty. When you come to Las Vegas, you see Siegfried and Roy," he said. "Siegfried and Roy are Las Vegas."
Hotel officials announced Saturday the show has been closed, and its 267 employees have been told to find new employment. A majority of the workers are employed by the hotel, which will try to place them.
Meanwhile, a representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the agency is looking into the attack.
Jim Rogers, spokesman for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which is a part of the USDA, would not comment on an investigation. He said the law is designed to protect animals used in performances and exhibitions.
Alan Feldman, spokesman for MGM Mirage, said the hotel would cooperate in the investigation.
The tiger remains quarantined.