Roy Horn, of magical duo Siegfried and Roy, dies of coronavirus complications

Roy Horn was known for his work with big cats, elephants and snakes. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Roy Horn, half of Las Vegas illusionist duo Siegfried and Roy, died on Friday (May 8) of complications from the coronavirus. He was 75.

Known for his work with big cats, elephants and snakes, the German-born magician died at Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas, his publicist told US media. He tested positive for Covid-19 last week.

Horn's celebrated work with exotic animals came to an abrupt and violent end in 2003 when he was dragged from the stage by a 180kg white tiger and seriously injured.

Although he recovered, the Las Vegas show - a hugely lucrative collaboration with long-time partner Siegfriend Fischbacher - did not return.

"Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend," Fischbacher said in a statement to US media.

"There could be no Siegfried without Roy, and no Roy without Siegfried."

Born in 1944 in Nordenham, Germany, Horn gravitated towards exotic animals with his first pets - a wolf-dog named Hexe and Chico the cheetah - adopted from Bremen Zoo.

He met Fischbacher in 1957 on board a cruise ship where both were employed as entertainers, and after forming a partnership in 1959, the pair went on to work around Europe.

They made their Las Vegas debut in the late 1960s, eventually settling at The Mirage where they performed hundreds of shows from 1990 until the 2003 attack.

Remote video URL

Horn, who suffered a stroke and partial paralysis when the animal dragged him off stage, always insisted the mauling was not the fault of the white Siberan tiger Mantecore.

But Siegried and Roy made only one more appearance in 2009, and officially retired from show business in 2010.

Horn devoted much of the remainder of his life to wildlife conservation. He is survived by his brother, Werner Horn.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.