Feds Require Magicians To Make Disaster Plans For Their Bunnies


Reason 24/7

Did you know that the hoary old magician's stunt of pulling a rabbit out of a hat requires federal licensing and submission to regulations administered by the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service? No, neither did I. But the whole business is governed by Title 9, Chapter I, Subchapter A, Parts 1-4 of the Animal Welfare Act, which governs most commercial handling of animals, down to even trivial arrangements. And among those regulations is a new rule requiring animal handlers, including a magician with his bunny rabbit, "to develop a plan for how they are going to respond to and recover from emergencies most likely to happen to their facility, as well as train their employees on those plans." Which is a lead-in to the odd tale of a magician and his bunny and the detailed and extensive requirements sent their way by federal bureaucrats.

From the Heritage Foundation's Foundry:

With the July 29 compliance deadline looming, the USDA recently sent Marty the Magician (aka Marty Hahne of Springfield, Missouri) an eight-page communiqué detailing requirements for the plan, which must:

  • Identify common emergencies most likely to occur,
  • Outline specific tasks required to be carried out in response to each of the identified emergencies,
  • Identify a chain of command and who (by name or by position title) will be responsible for fulfilling these tasks, and
  • Address how response and recovery will be handled in terms of materials, resources, and training needs.

All of which means that Marty must prepare for all the calamities that could possibly befall Casey the Rabbit while making the rounds of more than 150 performance venues he visits each year, including schools, libraries, churches, and homes.

This rule applies to people and businesses which have some sort of a commercial use for animals, rendering them reliant on the animals' well-being to begin with. That means that these people and businesses are either responsible and forward-thinking enough to take care of their own animals so that they can continue to operate, or else they're sufficiently boneheaded that a requirement to stand and deliver contingency plans to an APHIS inspector upon command is unlikely to preserve their menageries from the apocalypse. APHIS cites Hurricane Katrina (PDF) as an inspiration for the rule, although that's a great example of the failure of the federal government's own planning and the value of reacting dynamically to unanticipated scenarios.

And, for small operators like a magician and his bunny, complying with the intrusive details of the contingency rule is likely to be rather more burdensome than simply stuffing Casey into your jacket, if the shit hits the fan, and running like hell.

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  1. This subject deserves no comment.

    1. And, yet…

    2. Our disaster plans include our animals. Depending on the situation, we even have plans for cooking them.

      (Did I mention we have goats and chickens?)

      1. Goaturducken?

        1. Heh! I prefer goat milk and chicken eggs.

  2. Did you know that the hoary old magician’s stunt of pulling a rabbit out of a hat requires federal licensing and submission to regulations administered by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service?

    Illusion, JD. A stunt is something Andy Richter’s brother Rocky does for money.

    1. It makes you wonder what would happen if one of the magicians stuffed his rabbit up his sleeve and insisted the critter was an illusion and the act contained no live rabbits.

      1. Sounds like the Zimmerman case…

      2. I thought of the opposite: that the contingency plan would be to make the rabbit vanish.

  3. Because if we don’t force magicians to develop an emergency plan for their magic bunny, we would be just like Somalia.

    1. It’s true. Dead bunnies = no roads. Everyone knows that.

      1. Magician Rabbit Inspectors need to be be on the starship with the telephone sanitizers.

        Hmm… Maybe the MRI union can help speed that along.

        1. If you had kept reading you would know that actually didn’t work out too well for the civilization that did it.

    2. apparently if we didn’t force magicians to take care of the rabbits we would all make $350,000 year

  4. Did somebody say…magic?


  5. I sometimes have to wonder if it wouldn’t be better to be living in some much more corrupt country where idiotic shit like this gets ignored or bribed away and things just continue to operate in an otherwise sensible manner. Bureaucrats that you can pay to just fuck off have to be better than ones that will subject you to endless paperwork and who knows what threats of imprisonment or fines. I mean, isn’t a fine really just a bribe that doesn’t do what a bribe should do, which is make them go away?

    1. We have bribes here too, Epi, its just that local bureaucrats also like to give us paperwork to fill out for the pleasure of bribing them.

    2. I’ve thought that myself. Cyto says it’s crazy-talk, that there is no liberty without the iron fist of absolute law.

      1. I thought Cytotoxic was the warboner and Tulpa was the Lawr-and-odor-tarian.

        1. They’re both a blend of all of that. If they don’t think there is anywhere in the world where you can feel more free, than the USA, on a civil level, they’re fucking stupid.

          The US is becoming a statist shit hole. Where the hell else do they shoot your dog, just for fun, at least in the first world? Where?

        2. They all run together for me anyway. Authoritarians all look alike to me.

      2. It’s essentially “zero tolerance” for anything outside the “rules”. And we’ve seen how well that works out for the complexity of human society.

    3. This has been discussed here before. I have some theories about this, one of which is that your average public sector employee makes far more than their private sector counterpart.

      How does the private sector person who makes $28,500 a year bribe the public sector guy who makes $86,000 with $0 contribution to his retirement and guaranteed pension?

      Private sector guy: Ok… what would you say to Abraham Lincoln? *whips out $5 bill*

      Public sector guy: Uhh, absolutely nothing; you don’t have the required forms. NEXT! *rings bell*

      1. So…Greece?

        1. According to, the average BART worker salary for 2013 is $79,800 with an average benefits package worth $50,800 for a …

          So, I’m imagining bribing the ticket-taker at the B.A.R.T. station on my salary…

          Yeah, I think the B.A.R.T. ticket-taker would be none-too impressed with my offering.

          1. I heard they like first borns. The master demands the occasional blood sacrifice..

    4. I wonder if there is a lot more bribing going on than is realized. Like, if there is an entire group that knows the code words for bribes, and just pays them, while somehow keeping it secret.

      Of course, aside from the more public, larger shakedowns (Senator Schumer on Sunday morning talk shows.)

      No idea who to bribe for the rabbit, though. Too small for Schumer.

      1. I suspect that there’s a lot less compliance going on than is realized. Kinda like gun control in Europe: they ban certain weapons, require everyone to turn them in, and watch as 10% of the expected weapons show up.

        Then, they revise their expectations and claim that they just removed 90% of the guns, claim success, and move on.

        I suspect that a lot of laws exist on paper for no other purpose than making special interests feel really good. They can’t be expected to go around enforcing all of them. That would take a lot of work.

        1. It’s so they always have something to bust you on if they feel like it.

          If everyone is always in a state of noncompliance, then once you become a pest for whatever reason, they have the ready-made excuse they need to stomp on you.

          1. This^^^^

          2. Yep,

            Predatory enforcement is a feature (maybe even the whole point).

          3. As the book says, three felonies a day.

            1. Or for the classical reference:

              “In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.” — Hunter S. Thompson, Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas

    5. I sometimes have to wonder if it wouldn’t be better to be living in some much more corrupt country where idiotic shit like this gets ignored or bribed away and things just continue to operate in an otherwise sensible manner.

      Yes it would be better.

      That’s the reason that Italy works and England doesn’t.

  6. The contingency plan should be to recover the animal’s body after the incident, and make it into a delicious stew.

    Also, does the rabbit have to independently demonstrate knowledge of the emergency plan to regulators in order for the magician to be in compliance?

    1. I was going to make a joke that that would be under the domain of an animal version of OSHA,but then I re-read the post and realized it was.

    Could you tell the court what it is that you do? You’re a type of magician?

    Well, if you must call me that, yes. But, if you are after mere parlor tricks, you will be sorely disappointed. For if I reach behind your ear, it will not be a nickel I pull out, BUT YOUR VERY SOUL!

    1. Great show, doesn’t get quoted enough.

      1. Dr. Orpheus is one of my favorite cartoon characters ever.

        1. “Dr. Orpheus…and team.”

          1. “All right, fine… get me MY BLUE WINDBREAKER!”

  8. Does:

    1. Throw rabbit in hat.
    2. Throw hat on head.
    3. RUN!!!

    Count as a disaster plan?

  9. Feds Require Magicians To Make Disaster Plans For Their Bunnies

    They require magicians to make their budget plans work also. What is new?

  10. The real trick is pulling a hat out of a rabbit.

    1. Wasn’t that a bit on Penn & Teller’s Fool Me?
      If you’ve never seen the show, YouTube “Piff the Magic Dragon.”

      1. I like their ‘bullshit’ show.

        1. Yeah, I liked some of that too.

      2. Piff was hilarious. Great comedy act. Not quite as good as a magician.

        There was one where P&T got fooled, though, that I thought was fucking obvious. Basically, it required a few plants in the audience. Penn gave him the benefit of the doubt, though, for no discernible reason…though he seemed to realize it at the end when he pointed to the first “audience member” who helped with the trick and said “If you were in on it I’m going to murder you!”

        Something tells me they avoided him in Vegas…

    2. Warty did that once. Well, he actually just made a hat out of a rabbit, but there was pulling (and crushing, and stretching, and raping) involved.

      1. “So I fucked a hamster once. I had to wrap electrical tape around it to keep it from exploding. OH!”

        -Dice Clay

        1. Dice’s guest stuff on Entourage was great. He played himself, and as a volatile fool who fucked up Drama’s show.

      2. Typical; Warty has no fashion sense. Rabbit pouches are where it’s at.

  11. like Barry replied I am blown away that a single mom can earn $5578 in four weeks on the internet. have you read this site

    1. Barry has Downs Syndrome. He’s “blown away” by just about everything, including electric lighting. So I wouldn’t read too much into his opinion on things.

      I’m a big fan of old Karen Black horror movies though, so good job on the handle.

  12. Identify common emergencies most likely to occur,

    Loose rabbit.

    Outline specific tasks required to be carried out in response to each of the identified emergencies

    Apprehend rabbit.

    Identify a chain of command and who (by name or by position title) will be responsible for fulfilling these tasks, and

    Me (boss) rabbit.

  13. I’m surprised no one has left this link here…..our_Rabbit

    On topic, does cooking and eating your rabbit in an emergency count as a plan?

    …”Coneys!” Hobbit

  14. “Why for you bury me in the cold, cold ground, rabbit?”


  15. On top the the bullshit paperwork, I assume this also provides grounds for PETA to harass magicians into giving up live animals in their acts entirely. They’ll have no qualms at all about calling up any venue where magicians are booked and inquiring if the act is in compliance with common-sense animal cruelty laws.

    1. good.

  16. “Shhhh…be bewy bewy quiet…I’m hunting bureaucrat.”

  17. Can I marry the rabbit? Cause if I can’t, that’s racist. Why is everyone a hater? I just want equal benefits for me and fluffy.

    1. AlmightyJB| 7.2.13 @ 11:20PM |#

      “I don’t see a difference between interracial marriage and animal cruelty”


  18. But what if a ventriloquest – say like Anthony Hopkins in Magic – had a rabbit that told the Dept of Ag inspector that he was a maroon?

  19. Jerry Pournelle has been mentioning the “bunny inspectors” for quite some time now. Many didn’t believe him.

  20. Although the regulations aren’t clear on who needs to be licensed the magician could avoid licensing by using a lizard instead of a rabbit however if he used a stuffed rabbit skin he would still be included. Looking over the definitions shows some amazing things. A European Honey Bee and a non-native rotifer are included as an “Exotic animal”. An “Animal” includes dead animals. A Dealer includes someone who deals in parts of dead animals for “research, teaching, testing, experimentation, exhibition, or for use as a pet”. Someone who deals in stuffed animals is therefore covered. Curiously someone who sells a dog for food is not included but one who sells a dog for use as a pet is included.

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