The tiger that mauled Las Vegas entertainer Roy Horn was protecting him rather than attacking him, according to his stage partner.
Roy Horn was injured by a tiger on stage on Friday
Siegfried Fischbacher told a US TV show that Horn slipped during the magic show and the tiger grabbed him by the neck to pull him back up.
Horn remains in a critical condition but is able to communicate through hand signals and eye contact.
Siegfried said if the white tiger had wanted to kill, it would have done so.
He told CNN's Larry King: "I just saw that the tiger grabbed him on the sleeve... and Roy said, 'let go', and the tiger let go and Roy bent back and he slipped.
"The tiger [grabbed] Roy in the neck and he pulled him back
He said the tiger, named Montecore, sensed danger when Fischbacher and a trainer rushed to help Horn "so he took Roy and put him backstage behind the curtain... to protect him and then he let Roy go".
Horn was injured on Friday during one of the German-born duo's shows at the Mirage resort, where they have performed for 35 years.
He was rushed to hospital and later suffered a stroke.
But Fischbacher said he had been spending time at Horn's side and was able to communicate with him.
"He understood exactly what I was saying. I could see it
in his face. His colour is back. And so we take it just by hour
and hour," he said.
Fischbacher said the tiger would not be put down despite the devastating injuries inflicted on his partner.
"It is Roy's wish that no-one hurts him. He will remain part of
our family," he said.
"If Montecore had wanted to kill him, he would have shaken his head and it would have all been over.
"The tiger did nothing wrong. He's still part of the family."
It was also revealed Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver called Fischbacher as the actor celebrated his election to California Governor, wishing Horn a speedy recovery,
Manager Bernie Uman added: "Siegfried and Roy will go on."