This is a very controversial subject, in the world of children’s entertainment. My answer is NO! I actually used to, I used to perform with rabbits and doves. But not any longer. It was a tough decision, and one that some of my associates get very hostile toward me when I share my stories, experiences and observations.
Like others, I took good care of my animals. Some of them were treated as household pets. I never “stuffed” my animals into tight secret compartments to produce or vanish, they were kept comfortable. They were loved, and some of them seemed to actually love the interaction with the kids at the shows, Crystal the Magic Bunny was the greatest, she performed with me for 8 years (a long time for small rabbits). She really did enjoy performing, she was actually quite the ham! Those are the positives.
Now for the negative side, that eventually changed my perspective:
- No matter how well bunnies are cared for, you have to transport them from home to the show. Rabbits can survive in a variety of environments, they can live in the desert, or in the snow. However they are more susceptible to drastic changes in temperatures, more susceptible to the drastic changes than us humans. Think what happens when we go into, and out of air conditioning and the hot summer day outside. Or the opposite, snowy day outside and warm toasty day inside. What happens, when we do this several times a day? Our immune system is affected and we are susceptible to summer and winter colds. So when the magician takes the bunny from home, on a warm summer day, puts him in an air conditioned car to drive to the show, takes him out of the air conditioned car into the warm summer day weather, while he carries him into the cool air conditioned house for the party. Now repeat all that when the magician is done. Now multiply that if the magician has more than one show on a Saturday.
- Rabbits and birds have some natural enemies, and they can smell that a dog or cat has been in a room, even several days ago, and it makes them very skittish and afraid, that makes them very defensive, and more prone to scratch and bite.
- In order to keep rabbits and birds from having a “bathroom” accident in your house, the magician must keep the animals away from food and water several hours before the show, some magicians don’t even think that is a problem. If he has several shows in a single day, they must be deprived way too long.
- Though I never allowed kids at a party to pet or touch any of my animals, many magicians do allow it, because if you don’t, the kids are disappointed, they expect to be able to. If a magician is doing several hundred shows a year, multiply that by the number of kids that see the show, and get to touch the bunny. It is going to HAPPEN, it can’t NOT happen. It is just a matter of time. Sooner or later, the rabbit is going to bite a child. So there is a liability issue, not only is the magician liable but the party hostess is going to be legally liable also.
So there you have it, my reasons for not having animals in my show, I know some parents still will want it, so I guess I am not the one they would want to hire.
I do love using puppets in some of my shows, the kids relate very well to them. The puppets end up doing magic themselves. Many times children ask me before or during the show, if I am going to make birds or a bunny appear. But I have NEVER had a child show disappointment after the show that I did not make animals appear, because it really was not necessary to entertain them.