CCTV axe magician's goldfish trick from festival showcase

08:32, February 16, 2011      

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Executives at China Central Television have assured viewers that no live animal acts will feature in its annual Lantern Festival show after a protest by animal protection groups.

Magician Fu Yandong, whose show includes a trick in which he makes goldfish dance and move in formation, is booked to appear on the channel's Thursday night extravaganza.

However, he will not be allowed to perform his most popular illusion, which has come under fire from animal welfare groups. On Monday, 53 NGOs wrote to CCTV claiming that the act could be potentially harmful to the fish. They also feared it could lead to the torture and death of animals if viewers attempt to imitate the trick.

Li Huili, a researcher at Da'erwen, one the protesting NGOs, on Tuesday said she had learned that the trick will not be performed. METRO was unable to contact CCTV before going to press.

Fu will still appear at the Beijing show, and is also booked to perform on Hunan Television's Lantern Festival special.

"He won't be performing that trick," confirmed Fu's agent Liang Ming. "We've heard that some people tried to imitate our goldfish trick, but they did it the wrong way. Fu just wants to tell those imitators to stop doing that."

The goldfish illusion proved a massive hit with viewers of CCTV's Spring Festival Gala this month, and prompted many to ponder how it is done. To disprove a common theory that it involves magnets, a netizen using the name "lovehao16" blogged on tianyu.com on Feb 4 about his "experiment" to find the truth. He explained how he put a magnet inside two fish. Both died.

Such copycat behavior has roused complaints from many animal rights NGOs, including Da'erwen. In the co-signed letter to CCTV, the NGOs called for independent experts to be on hand during performances to ensure no animals are hurt.

Liang said Fu will not be inviting any organization to see the truth behind the magic. "There's no reason to reveal the secret," he added. "The only thing we can say it that the trick doesn't hurt the goldfish."

Fu was born in 1975 and is the fourth generation of magicians in his family, according to his personal introduction on Baidu. His farther, Fu Tenglong, is referred to as the "King of Magic" in China.

By Yang Wanli, China Daily
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