From the Stars and Stripes archives

Phantasialand: Tigers arrive in park at last

By ANITA GOSCH | S&S STAFF WRITER Published: June 12, 1987

The gift that almost didn't make it to Germany — but made American headlines by its disappearance — was presented after all.

And with "one crying eye and one laughing eye," Siegfried and Roy, who have a popular Las Vegas magic act, gave two rare white tigers to the Phantasialand theme park in Bruehl, Germany.

"This is our gift from Las Vegas, from the American people and from Siegfried and Roy, for Germany, our homeland," Roy said Tuesday in a news conference following the presentation.

"We are here with one crying eye and one laughing eye," he said. "As wonderful as it is, we leave part of our family here."

The 10-month-old tigers — Siegroy and Vegas, a female and a male — disappeared in New York last week while en route from Las Vegas to Germany when someone stole the van in which they were traveling. The abandoned vehicle, locked and with the tigers still inside, was found five hours later.

Asked whether the incident was a publicity gimmick, Roy replied, "I think we're beyond the point of needing such publicity."

He described the day as the "worst day of our lives."

"What we brought is not the rarest tiger in the world, not an animal that has already become extinct in the wilderness," he said. "What we brought is a part of our family.

"The fact that they were stolen, that they were kidnapped, and we didn't know whether we would ever see them alive again — that was the biggest shock for us."

The tigers will be housed in the amusement park in an enclosure, complete with a swimming pool, that is a copy of their previous habitat in Las Vegas.

The park, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is in Bruehl, just outside Cologne, off autobahn 61. It is open every day from April 1 to Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission is 17 marks (about $9) for adults and 15 marks (about $8) for children, and covers the cost of most attractions.

After being escorted by Siegfried and Roy to their new home in Germany, 10-month-old white tigers Siegroy and Vegas wasted no time in trying out the swimming pool.