Siegfried & Roy are speaking out against their tiger handler's allegations that Roy Horn was to blame for the infamous tiger attack that almost killed him in 2003.
Horn, 74, was mauled and dragged offstage by Montecore, a 400-pound Siberian tiger, during a live show on Oct. 3, 2003, ending Siegfried & Roy's successful Las Vegas run.
Following the attack, Horn adamantly said the tiger "saved my life" by dragging him to safety after he suffered a stroke. But trainer Chris Lawrence told the Hollywood Reporter in March that Horn made an error onstage that almost cost him his life.
On ABC’s "Good Morning America" Tuesday, Horn and his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, doubled down that the career-ending incident was "an accident" not an "attack."
In fact, Fischbacher said, the 2003 mauling was the duo's only incident with one of their animals. "Only that one. And that was an accident," he added.
Fischbacher recalled that Horn repeatedly told Montecore "no" while the tiger was waiting to jump on his shoulders for a treat, before Horn suffered a stroke that fateful night
"Then Montecore went on top of him. And he looked around," he said, adding that the confused animal "of course" tried to help him to safety.
However, Lawrence told THR that the duo's explanation is a "romanticized" cover story, adding that Horn suffered a stroke as a result of the attack. Lawrence said Horn didn't follow "correct procedure" before the mauling, leading Montecore into "confusion and rebellion."
"What Roy did was, instead of walking Montecore in a circle, as is usually done, he just used his arm to steer him right back into his body, in a pirouette motion," Lawrence said.
He added that Horn was spending too little time with the tigers before shows, eroding the bond between animal and performer.
Fischbacher told ABC that he has "no idea" why Lawrence came forward with the story, adding that the former trainer has "problems with his life anyway." (Lawrence was diagnosed with PTSD following the incident.)
Whatever the reason behind the incident, Fischbacher said he doesn't think "that much" about it anymore. Horn added that he holds "no" resentment toward the tigers and is "very" happy as he continues his recovery.
Horn has difficulty walking and talking, which a 2005 USDA report said was the result of a crushed windpipe and damage to an artery carrying oxygen to his brain.
Fischbacher said that he doesn't "miss" performing. He added, "We have been onstage in Vegas just by themselves for 40 years onstage, you know? And we had the most successful show in the history of Las Vegas anyway."
Contributing: Susan Haas
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Siegfried & Roy break silence, deny trainer's mauling allegations