Illusionist Roy Horn has described his mauling by a tiger, maintaining that the animal intended to protect rather than attack him.
Horn was clinically dead for a minute following the mauling
The tiger bit Horn's neck and dragged him offstage during a live performance in Las Vegas last October.
Afterwards Horn, 59, suffered a stroke which left him partially paralysed.
He told German broadcaster RTL that the tiger had been trying to save him after he collapsed. "It was unfortunate that his teeth hit my carotid artery."
Horn said the 380lb (171kg) white tiger, named Montecore, tried to move him out of danger after he fainted onstage.
"It was an accident," Horn said. "Montecore understood the signals and wanted to save me."
A show employee used a fire extinguisher to break the animal's grip.
Horn, who performed glitzy tiger shows in Las Vegas with his partner Siegfried Fischbacher for 13 years, insisted that the tiger was not destroyed after the incident.
The illusionist was clinically dead for a minute after the attack.
"I saw flashing bright lights and my mother. My beloved animals were lying at her feet," he said.
Asked to account for his brush with death, he said: "I was not allowed to die just yet, because my wings for being an angel were not quite ready."