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Earlier this month, the Siegfried & Roy show in Las Vegas was brought to a dramatic close when a seven-year-old, white Bengal tiger attacked Roy and drug him off the stage before an audience of 1500 people. It was Roy’s 59th birthday, and shortly after introducing the Tiger, it bit Roy on the arm. When he hit the tiger with his microphone to back him off, the big cat grabbed him by the throat and dragged him off stage. Spectators were shocked and said that Roy looked like a rag doll as the tiger shook him and dragged him away. Roy was rushed to University Medical Center for emergency surgery after he suffered massive blood loss. Siegfried & Roy have been putting on their act in Vegas for 30 years. They should know tigers, but this one obviously surprised them. Siegfried tried to say that the tiger was protecting Roy, but the tiger did not grab him by the scruff of the neck, he grabbed him by the throat — an instinctive move to kill. Siegfried and Roy practically live with these animals. They tame them and train them. They become emotionally attached to them. But as someone pointed out, the older the tiger gets the more its instinctive wildness comes out.
I did a little research on the Internet and found that there have been several tiger attacks in the United States. At the Savage Kingdom in Sumter County, Florida, a Siberian tiger lunged at Vincent Lowe, the trainer as he was fixing a fence. When he tried to use a board to push the tiger back, it turned on him and crushed his neck and killed him.
One man living in a New York apartment raised a tiger from a cub until it got out of control. He eventually moved out of his own apartment and let the tiger take over. He would go once a day and throw in a raw chicken, but authorities learned of the captive tiger when the cat waited by the door and bit his owner.
In another tragic incident, Kerry Quinney had raised his pet tiger from birth. But when he placed his three-year-old step-grandson next to the tiger to take a picture, the tiger drug the child off and he later died in the hospital.
Since 1990, at least six adults and two children have been killed by tigers in the United States. More than 60 others have been seriously injured in tiger maulings. There are now three times as many tigers in captivity, and kept as pets, as there are in the wild.
Most of you are aware that we had tigers being kept in a home near our neighboring community of Gambier. I was talking to a business man in town this week who made a delivery to that home. The people who owned the home told him that they would be away, but told him he could just go in and leave the item they had purchased in their home. When he walked into the house he could see a lion and tiger on the glass enclosed patio. When the tiger saw him, it lunged in an attempt to get at him. The wall bulged and shook until he thought it would collapse. The stark terror he experienced that afternoon is not something he wants to go through again.
I’m saying all this to make a point. There are many people who invite some seemingly small sin into their lives because it looks so cute. It’s nothing all that big. It seems harmless enough until it begins to grow. It begins to roam your house until it becomes the biggest thing in your life. The wildness and ferocity of it finally comes out, until you realize that you are afraid of it. Finally you wake up to the fact that is controlling you, and has the power to bring you irreparable harm or destroy you. It can rip you to shreds. The Bible warns us: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
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