Animal rights activists call for an end to goldfish magic trick on TV

09:31, February 16, 2011      

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Goldfish perform a magic trick on China Central Television's "Spring Festival Gala" program in Beijing in this video frame shot taken on February 2, 2011. [Photo:]

Fifty-three animal protection groups called for an end to a contentious golden fish magic show that aired on national television on Chinese New year's Eve, "The Beijing News" reports.

During the "Spring Festival Gala of the Rabbit Year" program which aired on China Central Television (CCTV) on February 2, magician Fu Yandong performed a goldfish trick entitled "nian nian you yu," which means "having a surplus every year." Goldfish in a tank seemed to obey Fu's every command as he instructed them to swim and turn in sync. The act triggered both curiosity and incredulity among many viewers.

According to the news report, animal rights activists believe Fu trained the fish by abusing them through electroshocks or other harmful methods.

Fu has denied the allegations and said he trained the fish with magic methods that cannot be divulged because of magicians' guild regulations.

Fu told "The Guangzhou Daily" that he planned to perform the trick again on CCTV's "Lantern Festival Gala" program, which will air on February 17.

In a public letter to CCTV, the animal protection groups insisted that the state broadcaster should forbid any animal-related shows to be aired in case viewers imitated what they saw on the programs and abused animals in the process.

The letter also said that unless CCTV could firmly ascertain that the fish in Fu's magic act were not abused, his show should not go on air. The animal activist groups called on Chen Linchun, General Director of the "Spring Festival Gala," to invite third-party animal rights advocates to investigate whether the fish had been abused. They said if it was proved that the fish had been harmed, CCTV should apologize to the public and ask people not to imitate Fu's act.

In response to the public letter, Chen said on Monday that CCTV's "Lantern Festival Gala" would not include any animal-related shows, including the gold fish magic performance.

In the meantime, Fu's manager, a man surnamed Liang, said the method used to train the fish was completely harmless, according to the report. He also said Fu would not stop performing the act, although they both understood and supported animal rights and protection.

Liang also said Fu was willing to cooperate with third-party animal rights activists in examining his training methods on condition of not violating magicians' guild regulations. Liang and Fu plan to issue a public letter calling on internet users to stop imitating the magic trick, the report said.

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