10/10/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT
Animal experts are protesting Siegfried Fischbacher's argument that a white tiger mauled his partner, Roy Horn, by accident.
"The cat wasn't trying to protect (Horn)," Jonathan Kraft, who runs the Arizona-based nonprofit group Keepers of the Wild, tells the Associated Press. "That was a typical killing bite."
Fischbacher appeared on TV Wednesday to insist that Montecore, the tiger that attacked Horn onstage in Las Vegas last Friday night, was actually trying to help Horn. "Listen, I say it was an accident," Fischbacher told CNN's Larry King. "If it would be that the tiger would be out for killing Roy, it would (have happened) in no time."
Audience members at the MGM Mirage show told CNN the tiger appeared to lash out at his trainer, mauling him and then dragging him offstage.
"I admire the guys, I just think they are sending a wrong message," Kraft says. "The message needs to be: These are wild animals."
Fischbacher has confirmed that although his longtime partner suffered substantial blood loss and a subsequent stroke, Horn is now communicating through hand signals. And although the MGM Mirage show is shut down, Fischbacher hinted at an eventual return to the stage if Horn recovers fully, saying the pair would "take a different path, I'm sure, but ... the show is our life."
The duo's manager, Bernie Yuman, said Siegfried would not return to the stage without his longtime partner. "It is Siegfried and Roy and that's the way it began and that's the way it will always be," he said.