AceShowbiz - Illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher has broken his silence following a handler's claims suggesting his partner Roy Horn was to blame for an infamous tiger attack during a Las Vegas show in 2003.
Earlier this year, Chris Lawrence, who rushed to rescue showman Horn from the mouth of the big cat, insisted the entertainer's actions onstage confused white tiger Montecore with a new routine, prompting the beast to lunge at him.
Lawrence, who had been working for Siegfried & Roy for 11 years ahead of the attack, told TV show "Today" he was left scarred for life and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the incident, which left Horn partially paralysed.
But the showman's partner insists his former employee is mistaken and Montecore was trying to protect Roy after the illusionist suffered a stroke during the show.
"It was an accident...," he tells "Good Morning America". "It wasn't an attack, because if a tiger attacks you it takes two seconds to take you over."
"Montecore was waiting to get his jump up on Roy's shoulders and get his treat and Roy was down and he said 'no' to Montecore and then Montecore went on top of him and he looked around and... the look on his face was, 'What's going on?' Then he grabbed him and he carried him... backstage."
But Lawrence told The Hollywood Reporter, "They (Siegfried & Roy) didn't like making mistakes and never owned them in front of an audience... Instead of walking Montecore in a circle, as is usually done, he just used his arm to steer him right back into his body."
Siegfried, who shut down the pair's long-running Las Vegas act immediately after the tiger attack, has always maintained Horn suffered a mini-stroke onstage and Montecore was simply trying to drag his master to safety - and he has no idea why Lawrence is challenging that story.
An official United States Department of Agriculture investigation into the incident found nothing to support the handler's claim.
"I just know his (Lawrence) life was full of problems," Fischbacher explains.