Burmese Python Ban Ruins Magician's Grand Finale
In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the interstate transport of Burmese pythons—a kind of Mann Act for giant, awesome snakes. The reason: Pet pythons that go rogue have a habit of getting super huge, freaking out civilians, and generally disrupting ecosystems.
But the tragic unintended consequence of the law is that Florida magician Lance Gifford has been forced to give up Cadabra, his longtime personal python assistant, and retire $20,000 worth of stage props previously used in his grand finale, the Hindu Basket:
Gifford's assistant would crawl into a basket, his torso sticking out of the top. Gifford would drape a red cloth over him, which would then suddenly drop as if the body underneath had vanished. The magician would then ram four swords through the basket. Then he would extract the swords, reach inside and pull out a huge Burmese python.
He'd wiggle the cloth over the top, and his smiling assistant would jump out before Gifford would reach inside the basket again to pull out a second snake.
For more about magic and big government, see Penn Jillette.