He tugs on a leash. There's a flash of fur. He lifts Sandy by the underarms, just as a father would pick up a toddler from a play pen. For an instant, before McCarthy releases the panther on top of her green plastic crate, he is face to face with the enormous feline.
Sandy sits regally on her hind quarters and stares into the crowd as McCarthy hurries through some nuggets of information about her species. His spiel includes a reference to Roy Horn, half of Siegfried & Roy. "Here in Florida, you're not allowed to keep the big cats like lions and tigers as pets, for one good reason: They will kill you! Or if you're a magician, they might drag you all over the stage in a place called Vegas."
Mark McCarthy and one of his charges: Getting bitten is "part of the job."
Sandy the panther: "She's a lover, not a fighter."
McCarthy grabs the cat under the jaw to plant a loud kiss on the top of her head. The panther nuzzles him back. "She's a lover, not a fighter, aren't you?" he coos, his lips a few centimeters from Sandy's nose.