Siegfried & Roy Their Final Bow

updated 03/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/16/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The last time he appeared before an audience, Roy Horn exited the stage in the jaws of one of his own tigers—and it was no magic trick. Having lost a great deal of blood, he suffered a stroke and a partial paralysis from which he still hasn't fully recovered. But now, over five years later, he again shared a smoke-swirled set with his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, for a Feb. 28 performance that was both a comeback and farewell for the magic duo—as well as for Montecore, the Bengal tiger who mauled Horn during an Oct. 3, 2003, show at Las Vegas's Mirage hotel. This night, happily celebrating a career that spanned 50 years and 30,000 shows, Horn appeared to render the 600-lb. cat from thin air; Montecore prowled unleashed, then lay at the feet of his masters. "This is the perfect thing to say a nice au revoir, auf Wiedersehen," Fischbacher, 69, told ABC's 20/20, which will air Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Returns on March 6.

No one expected Horn, 64, to perform again—and certainly not with Montecore, who has been kept at a habitat in the Mirage. But an upbeat Horn told 20/20, "My doctor has told me that within one year I will be able to do everything I want to do." And a proper finale was top of the list. "Roy is fierce," says longtime manager Bernie Yuman. "We got to say farewell in a dignified way." Though Horn may have other ideas. After the standing ovation, a smiling Horn asked his castmates backstage, "Are you all ready for the second show?"

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