Siegfried Speaks About Mauled Partner

ByABC News via logo
February 4, 2009, 7:22 PM

Oct. 8, 2003 — -- Las Vegas entertainer Roy Horn, who has been hospitalized after being attacked by a tiger during a performance, will perform with big cats again, his longtime stage partner told ABCNEWS' Diane Sawyer today.

Asked how he would feel being on stage with a big cat again, Siegfried Fischbacher, the other half of the pair known as Siegfried and Roy, said, "I will be. I will be because this is my family, and Roy will be."

Fischbacher, a German native, continued in broken English: "This is our life. If I wouldn't do this, life would be — meant nothing. But the life what we lived would meant nothing."

Roy remains in critical condition, but is stable. In the interview, for Thursday morning's Good Morning America, Fischbacher said he is confident his partner will pull through.

"I know Roy all of these years. He always surprises us. Roy always comes through because I think Roy, he is the strongest man ever lived anyway. He has the strength like a tiger, you know."

Fischbacher said he communicates with Horn by holding hands and squeezing. "One time is yes and two times is no. I can see his eyes, and he is following me, and he smiles and he's positive."

‘The Darkest Day’

On Friday night, Horn brought 7-year-old Montecore — a white tiger who has appeared in the show since he was 6 months old — on stage, and then told the tiger to lie down.

"It was the darkest day of my life," Fischbacher said.

Montecore didn't listen to Horn's instructions. Instead, he grabbed Horn's arm in his mouth. Horn struck Montecore with his microphone, trying to get him to loosen his grip.

Montecore then grabbed Horn by his throat, dragging him backstage where handlers subdued the tiger by spraying him with a fire extinguisher.

"It happened so fast," Fischbacher said. "I was standing on the side, and it — things happened, what we did, we did a thousand, a million times, the same thing. And this time something happens, and it went so fast, I even can't explain it."

Fischbacher said what happened may not be fully understood until Horn recovers.

"He's going to tell us exactly, because what happened — he know what happened. He thinks like a tiger. He knows how a tiger reacts."

But there's one thing Fischbacher said was clear: that Horn didn't think the tiger did anything wrong.

"He knew the tiger didn't react in a vicious way," Fischbacher said. "He just was in a situation where he was kind of confused, and he took away from that confusion Roy backstage."

As the animal handlers pulled Montecore into his cage, Fischbacher said Horn had two simple requests: "Please don't do any harm. Don't shoot the cat."

"You know, a cat is a tiger and when he wants to protect his cub or his pal, he does it the way how a tiger does, with the strength, you know. But we are human. We are a little more fragile," Fischbacher said.

Montecore continues to be quarantined at the hotel, officials said.

However, the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas has closed the show indefinitely, and the more than 260 people who work on the show have been told to look for new jobs.

A Long-Time Love

Siegfried and Roy have astonished audiences with their magic tricks and white tiger acts for decades without injury. Horn has been entertaining people with his animal act since 1966.

His love of animals dates back to postwar Germany. Horn fell in love with an animal his father brought home for him. The half dog, half wolf named Hexe spent every day with young Horn.

He first met his partner, Fischbacher, on a cruise ship where he was working as a bellboy. Fishbacher, a young magician, was working as one of the ship's entertainers.

The two first played Las Vegas in 1966. In 1990, the two signed a contract for $57.5 million to perform in a Mirage theater. He and Fischbacher have collected 63 rare white tigers and white lions over the years.

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