Two years and one month after a tiger attack that nearly killed him, magician Roy Horn and his partner Siegfried Fischbacher were back on stage Saturday, but as patrons rather than performers.
The Las Vegas team of Siegfried & Roy visited the Ozark resort of Branson to promote the show of protege Darren Romeo and make promises about their own return to performing.
"We will be back," the black-clad Roy told reporters, speaking on the stage of the Welk Resort Theater before watching Romeo's show there.
"I will make sure of that, because I am making a remarkable recovery," he said. "The doctors have assured me I will be better than new."
Roy, 61, has been undergoing rehabilitation after being partially paralyzed when a 380-pound (171-kilogram) white tiger attacked him on stage and dragged him by the neck during a performance of the "Siegfried & Roy" show at The Mirage resort in Las Vegas.
In Branson, Roy limped as he walked with the help of a black cane in his right hand and held his left arm crooked by his side. His words were slurred at times, and he left in a wheelchair after walking onto the stage with Siegfried.
Siegfried said Roy's progress in recovery was like watching magic every day.
"What he is doing here, standing in front of you. He walked on stage. Even two months ago, the doctors said it would not be possible. Every day I see a miracle, I see magic," Siegfried said.
"He is doing unbelievable. It is awesome," he said.
Roy said he has worked hard to regain his ability to walk, working out on treadmills and bicycles daily.
"I'm going every day, seven days week, for three hours a day," Roy said.
He also visits his tigers, including Montecore, the white tiger that bit him during a performance in October 2003.
"Of course. I do (visit them) now every day. People can see me there every day feeding my animals. ... The animals give me the power to stay strong," Roy said.
Siegfried said the visits were therapy for Roy.
"He visits them, he sits with them, he feeds them, he talks with them. This is the best therapy. I can see it every day," Siegfried said.
Both men said they would be back _ someday _ on stage performing magic with their tigers.
"Of course," Roy said. "I don't want to let my fans down. So I promise them I will come back."
But neither was willing to give a clue about when that may be.
"A good magician will never let the cat out of the bag," Roy said.
The pair dismissed as baseless a lawsuit filed last month by a former security guard alleging that Siegfried forced Roy to take excess medication during his recovery. Louis Mydlach, 34, alleged in the civil lawsuit that he was wrongly fired after trying to protect Roy.
"This is disgusting," Roy said.