Thursday, Aug. 13, 1998 | 8:33 a.m.
It may have been an exciting trip for Prosperity, but it was a sentimental journey for Roy Horn.
The member of the famed illusionist team Siegfried and Roy fought back tears Wednesday as he prepared to board a private jet with a 120-pound rare white lion for a trip to Cincinnati and her new home.
"I'm heartbroken," Roy said, choking with emotion, as the private jet from Mirage Resorts Inc. prepared for takeoff. "She will always be a part of Las Vegas."
Born prematurely on Christmas Day, the 2-pound, 13-ounce cub was given little chance of surviving. Roy fed the tiny creature with an eye-dropper until she was finally able to eat on her own.
The young lioness would spend the next seven months at Roy's side, sleeping in his bed, traipsing behind him at Siegfried and Roy's $10 million desert compound, or appearing as the new feline star at the pair's Mirage stage show.
At seven months, Prosperity is much younger than any of the other 56 white lions and tigers the entertainers are raising here. So Roy made what he termed one of the toughest decisions of his life - to take her to the Cincinnati Zoo, where he is chairman of a program that has bred more than 200 white tigers now in zoos around the world.
At Cincinnati she will join two white lion males - Sunshine, who is 10 weeks older, and Future, who is seven weeks older. Siegfried and Roy presented Future and Sunshine to the Cincinnati Zoo in February.
"For once, as a girl, she'll have the best of all worlds, she'll have two guys and she can have her pick," Roy said, obviously trying to make light of what was an emotional moment for him.
Prosperity was the first white lion born in Las Vegas.
She will be ready to breed about the turn of the century, creating a new bloodline the entertainers refer to as "The Pride of the New Millenium."
"She did the show with us last night, we got up this morning and had breakfast together, and she romped around the compound," Roy said before taking Prosperity from a waiting van and up the stairs of the sleek jet. "Now is the time to prepare for her quest."
Inside the plane, Prosperity sniffed about the leather seats, then gazed out the window.
"If you love something you have to let it go to make sure it grows," Roy said wistfully.