10/07/2013 AT 7:00 AM ET
Instead, he was being hauled off the stage in the mouth of a white tiger named Montecore.
While many assumed at the time that his death was a foregone conclusion, especially considering he went “code blue” three times that night and 25 percent of skull had to be removed, Horn lived to tell his story.
But how is he doing a decade after that horrific accident?
“The news about my death has been greatly exaggerated,” he joked to the Las Vegas Weekly in a rare interview. “I feel I am a very good-looking corpse.”
The 69-year-old former headliner admits that he is a “little bit handicapped,” but he still lives a fairly normal life.
“I can do a lot of things,” he said. “I can walk, I can go swimming, I can go to the gym, I can go shopping.” There’s nothing he can’t do, he said.
And one thing he won’t do is call that incident the evening of Oct. 3, 2003, anything other than an accident.
Horn claims he passed out on stage that evening and Montecore picked him up by the neck and carted him off stage to be attended to.
“But we need to rectify – he never attacked me,” says Horn. “If a tiger attacks you, you are finished.” In fact, he still calls Montecore “my brother.”
These days, Horn still relies on Siegfried Fischbacher for many day-to-day things, but he gets along fairly well for a man who stared death in the face. He also spends most of his time relaxing at a sprawling 100-acre animal kingdom in Vegas that the duo created 25 years ago.
“I’m very grateful, every day, for every breath I’m taking,” he conceded to writer John Katsilometes. “That is my message to anyone who has had a stroke or a heart attack. Keep moving. Make progress. Pull yourself together, because you can do it.”