Feds Demand Magician Submit Rabbit 'Disaster Plan'

USDA backtracks on rule after case publicized

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 17, 2013 2:25 AM CDT | Updated Jul 17, 2013 3:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – Marty the Magician is no stranger to red tape—the Department of Agriculture has long required him to have a license for the rabbit he uses in his act—but even he was surprised when the government ordered him to pull a rabbit disaster plan out of his hat. Under a rule that took effect earlier this year, all animal exhibitors, even magicians with one rabbit, must submit a plan on how they would save their animals in the event of disasters including floods, tornadoes, and chemical leaks, the Washington Post finds.

The plan wouldn't be required if Marty used a cold-blooded animal—or planned to kill the rabbit for food. A volunteer who heard about his case has penned a 28-page plan for him, though other entertainers plan much shorter ones. "I'll take a piece of paper and put down, 'Note: Take rabbit with you when you leave,'" a South Carolina magician with a licensed rabbit says. "That’s my plan." Soon after the Post's story appeared, the USDA issued a statement saying Secretary Tom Vilsack has asked for the disaster-plan rule to "be reviewed immediately and common sense be applied."

Over the last decade, magicians around the country have been ordered to get rabbit licenses.   (Shutterstock)
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