There is nothing more associated with Magicians and Animals than the old cliché of a Magician pulling a Rabbit out of Hat. Nobody really knows where or when this first originated, but this image of a Magician and his/her Magical Rabbit has been around for a long time. There has long been a question as to whether magicians should use animals in magic at all.
This runs the gamut from the Family Magician using a Rabbit at a child’s birthday party to large-scale Las Vegas Productions that utilize Tigers, Elephants and other exotic animals. This has especially come to the forefront with the question of the ethical treatment of animals. And let me be clear. There have been times in the past when the welfare of the animals was not front and center. All types of animals have been abused in magic as well as in other venues such as circuses, petting zoos, and more. And while there still may be some magicians who regard the animals they use as little more than props, I am convinced that they are in the minority.
I will use myself as an example. First, let me be clear. Any animal I use in magic, is first and foremost a pet, a loved companion of my household. I would never, ever intentionally put any of my pets/animals in any type of harmful situation or environment. I sometimes use rabbits in my shows and I sometimes use doves in my shows. The majority of my shows do not involve any animals, but when I do use them, they are always treated with the utmost care.
Let me use one illustration. Many times, like many entertainers, I will make a rabbit (I have two rabbits, Bam Bam and Pebbles) appear at a Child’s Birthday Party. But I always tell the Birthday Mom or Dad that while I am planning on bringing the bunny, if it is too hot, or the environment is too loud or stressful the bunny will not come. On a hot day it is okay for me to go out and perform in the heat, but the bunny stays home in cool house.
I play with my rabbits and birds virtually every day. They get treats. They are truly members of my household that give me joy and love. And when I use them in a magic show, I am not trying to exploit them, but instead provide a little bit of the wonder and love to the audience that they give me. This will probably be the last year that Bam Bam, my one rabbit appears in shows. He is getting older and just loves to cuddle. So soon, Bam Bam will enjoy a quiet retired life of playing, cuddling and snacks.
About the Author: Michael Reist, The Amazing Magi, is a professional magician that lives in Lebanon County, PA with his wife Kathy and their various pets. He performs all over the NE United States entertaining, mystifying, and proving fun to audiences of all ages. You can reach him by e-mailing [email protected] or calling him at (610) 698-0311