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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Magic rabbits re-appear
White rabbit
Magicians traditionally use white rabbits in their acts
White rabbits are to star again in Newcastle magic shows, following an admission by the city council it was wrong to ban them.

Newcastle City Council has apologised for sending letters to entertainers telling them live animals were not to be used in performances at local authority premises.

The apology came a week after the same council admitted an employee had been wrong to ban a Punch and Judy show from a children's event.

The council has admitted the white rabbit decision was due to a misunderstanding by staff.


This was an over-reaction and we apologise to magicians who may have been affected

Newcastle City Council spokesman

For two years magicians performing in libraries across the city have had to explain to disappointed children why the trademark trick was missing from their acts.

Entertainer Martin Duffy, 41, from Northumberland, said: "The whole show builds up to the climax of the rabbit appearing, the kids expect it.

"I had to rewrite the act and so I told the children 'There was an old witch who looked down from her castle and she saw that the children were enjoying themselves and so she got the rabbit banned'.

Rabbit 'is pet'

"Afterwards the parents would ask me if it was true and I had to say 'yes'.

"I had to explain it in a light-hearted way which also expressed my anger."

Mr Duffy - known as Martin the Magician - said his rabbit Sapphire enjoyed performing and was cared for as a pet.

The president of the Newcastle Magic Circle stressed the rabbit was well treated during the act and that the trick did not involve any discomfort.

Circus animals

A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: "We do not have a ban on the use of well-cared for animals which are an integral part of some magic shows.

"We introduced a policy banning animals in circus shows in 1988 out of concern for their welfare.

"Unfortunately, following complaints from the public, staff misunderstood the policy and sent out letters to magicians saying animals were not allowed in magic shows.

"This was an over-reaction and we apologise to magicians who may have been affected."


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21 Aug 02 | England
23 May 00 | UK
18 Jun 98 | Entertainment
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