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Kingry
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I am so sick of all the **** regarding dove magic being cruelty to animals. Has anyone checked the average life span of a dove in the wild? My birds are pampered with their favorite foods, have lots of playtime, and a cage larger than some rooms I have stayed in.

If my birds were so unhappy, why do they stay with me when released from their cage? We enjoy being on stage, and that's not natural. Who can say that our birds do not enjoy it equally?
Jason Wethington
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Kingry,

I am glad you take care of your birds. I know most animal owners do care about their animals.

Your post is exactly the reason I asked people to stop and think about what we do.

People shouldn’t put their feelings onto animals, i.e. “enjoying being on stage.”
That is being anthropomorphic.

You cannot tell me that your bird "enjoys" being on stage. You cannot tell me it is
"happy" being in a cage. You can't tell me those things because you are human and not a bird.

What is your basis to make the determination? You would be happy living in a cage? You would be happy being in a bag to be produced for others' enjoyment? You can make those choices can't you? What if you couldn't? Would it still be enjoyable, would you still be happy?

Any time an animal is taken out of its habitat, it is cruel. Are you saying because an animal has a short lifespan in the wild it deserves to be in a cage? By the way, life spans can range between 1 and 1.5 years in areas where doves are hunted, and to between 7 and 11 years in areas where they are not. These figures are for mourning doves in the United States. Other species in other areas have comparable life expectancies. The longevity of an animal in captivity is much longer (generally) because we remove the threat of predation and most diseases.

Just for the record, I am NOT an animal activist. I own animals; in fact I have two Goffins Cockatoos, an Iguana, two cats and a dog. I love all of them. I don't, however, say that my animals "love" me back. I know my animals stay with me because I am their source of food and shelter. I enjoy their companionship and I think that most of the time they tolerate me (at least the cats anyway).

Throughout history, it has been deemed as acceptable to keep many things "caged" including other humans. Time has proven those practices as barbaric and cruel. Why is this situation any different? Perhaps in 100 years, our children’s children will think it barbaric to keep exotic animals as pets.

Again, I am asking that we reconsider what we are doing.

Just because it is accepted doesn’t mean it is right.

Just something to think about.

Jason
Dave Scribner
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Jason: Good points but I think it depends on what you call cruel. White doves will not and cannot survive on their own in the wild so wouldn't it be cruel to release them into it rather than keep them protected in cages? Their natural habitat is a cage or aviary. They are not wild birds. When they're sick or injured, we take care of them. They wouldn't get that attention in the wild. I'd call that humane, not cruel.

Why is it alright to keep a dog on a leash or tied up in the back yard but not a bird in a cage? Are your cockatoos and iguana free to roam the house and neighborhood? If not, isn't that a double standard?

My cats, rabbits and birds come to me on their own and sit with me. Wouldn't you consider that a form of "love" rather than toleration?

I don't think my birds give a hoot (no pun intended) whether they are produced for the entertainment of others or not. They feel safe with me and in my opinion, safety, love, attention and affection are anything but cruel.

Of course, if you keep the birds in a cramped cage or dark room for example, that's a whole different topic to be discussed.
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Kingry
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Jason, how can you say that they don't enjoy being on stage? Would I be happy being produced out of a bag? Ever owned a sub trunk? Tough trick on the old body, but what a rush.

I sometimes think my birds know the act better than I do. I only use one invisible harness, but I don't even pull the dove. When she feels me go for the loop, she basically jumps into my hand for the split. Beats the heck out of being eaten for dinner, which is what my first pair were raised for by their previous owner.
Jason Wethington
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Dave,
The reason white doves cannot survive is because we have bred them to be white (no camouflage). The same thing is true for white tigers and lions. They are genetic anomalies. They are designed NOT to survive. Natural selection would not have allowed them to survive. Instead we put them in cages and breed them to be as perfectly white as we can for our purposes.

Who allowed them to become that way? People did, Dave. Is it cruel that we took them out of their natural habitat at some point and not allowed them to live out their own existence?

Is it ok because we weren't the ones who did it?

Is it cruel to keep a dog on a leash? Maybe. Is it cruel to keep a dog tied up in the backyard? Yes it is. Absolutely. The reason we have leash laws is for protection. We don't want dogs that are violent running loose. We have put a higher value on humans than on animals. Is it wrong to euthanize an animal? Yes it is.

To keep a bird in a cage is cruel. They aren't free. Just because we bred them to be like that doesn't mean it is right.

My animals are in cages (well not the cats or dog). Is it a double standard? Probably. I ask for better treatment of animals yet I keep two parrots and an Iguana in cages. I know that the animals can't survive in the wild any more. They depend on me for food and shelter. Putting them into the wild would be a death sentence. I know that I can give them a good home where they will be taken care of and loved. Like I said, it is a necessary evil of our society because of the ignorance of others we have to have animals in cages and zoos.

By the way, none of my animals were purchased. They were all orphaned or, in the case of the cockatoos, were going to live out their entire lives without ever flying again.

The birds are allowed to fly around my house. The cats are able to roam the house, as is the dog (who also goes outside). The Iguana has a very large cage with a tree inside.

They come to me because I give them food, protection and shelter. I cannot say that is "love" as you and I understand it. No more than I can say that when a dog barks at me he "hates" me.

My issue goes deeper than accepted practices of keeping animals. That is the problem. We keep animals that are wild in cages. We keep anomalies in cages because we put a value on them. We breed an animal until it is physiologically dependent on us and that is ok?

Kingry,
I can't say that they don't enjoy it any more than you can say they do. No, I have never owned a sub trunk because I am claustrophobic. Your birds may know the routine better than you but that doesn't mean that they enjoy it.

I have friends that raise birds of prey and feed them frozen chicks and quail. I don't think that is right either.

As far as doves being a prey item in the wild, I didn't invent the food chain or the ecosystem. I am glad you chose to save them from being "just meat."

Just because something is accepted doesn't mean it is right.

Jason
highmagic
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The concept of "cruelty to animals" is linked to their state of captivity. The reactions of an audience gasping after the production of a rabbit from a top hat are similar to me as the ones of people viewing a rare animal in a zoo. Very sad.
Dave Scribner
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So, to end cruelty to animals, I guess everyone worldwide needs to stop breeding animals of any type and animals in a zoo should not be allowed to mate. Once all existing household or zoo animals are depleted, every animal would be free to live or die in it's natural habitat.

Unrealistic? Absolutely. But if it were possible, would we have to make exceptions? What about seeing eye dogs, or farm animals? Do we stop raising cattle and sheep for meat (I guess vegetarians would say yes).

Back to the magic world, all of my birds were born in captivity. None of them have ever been free and therefore know nothing different. I believe for them, they are in their habitat.

I do agree that bringing a free animal into captivity could be considered cruel.

Regardless of what we think or say here, as long as audiences approve, magicians will always produce rabbits and birds or the occasional big cat and zoos will continue to exist.
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p.b.jones
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"You cannot tell me that your bird 'enjoys' being on stage. You cannot tell me it is
"happy" being in a cage. You can't tell me those things because you are human and not a bird."

Hi,
But for exactly the same reason you cannot say that the animal is unhappy or does not like it, as that would also be based on your personal human feeling.

I am not taking sides here - just looking at both sides of the argument.

As you will see from my posts on bunnies, I am very fussy about my rabbits and I would never bag one or produce or vanish one in a prop that requires the rabbit to tip, spin or fall.

If you go to my website (click photograph link at bottom of home page) you will see that my bunnies come in the house through the cat flap (I have 3 cats and 3 rabbits)and will voluntarily get up on me and lie down. I do not think that they would be quite so friendly if they disliked how I treated them.

Phillip
paraguppie
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Hi,

I am looking for a pair of doves at this time, and I currently own a cat. I don't know about the doves, but I am POSITIVE that my cat likes me, if not LOVES me. Why? Maybe because I feed it and shelter it. That could be, but maybe it's how I treat the animal. How do I know it likes me? It will crawl up on my lap and purr like a Ferrari. I think if the cat was just here for the food, I would not get attention like that.

As for the rest of the world's pets...that would be a case-by-case basis to see if the animal is "happy." I am positive that the owner of the animal can have at least a pretty good idea of how the animal feels towards the owner. I know I can. Just my two cents worth.

Keith
Check me out at www.magickeith.com
SnakeBabe
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Since I am a performer known for animals, I cannot pass this up...

I would like to start by offering this selection from my website...

"Lions and Tigers and birds oh my!

Entertainers use them and I really mean USE them. In many cases animals are not much more than an inanimate tool to be discarded when it breaks. NOT all magicians but a large enough number of them which pushes me to say this publicly. If an animal has to be starved or hit to make it work for a trick then it is best not to do that trick. I refuse to do dove magic that requires a dove or any bird being subject to the heat of a body load or from stage lights for extended periods of time. The living conditions for these birds that have to travel are more times than not, cramped and over crowded. Fresh air, natural sunlight, healthy diet, mental stimulation is little or none at all.

My dove (which was left for dead in a shower stall after a magic show) has a great personality loves to cuddle and flies to me every time I let it out of its cage and I feed her twice daily. Starvation is not in my vocabulary. Tigers rarely have the space or freedom needed to live a happy life in circuses or magic shows. Of course as I mentioned there are exceptions but typically the minimums in space and food are all that is given."

(And you guys thought my site was just pictures, LOL.)

Jason, I do agree with you on so many of your points.

I would like to add I believe that each animal according to its own intelligence has its own understanding of what life is.
Born in captivity, your iguana never knew freedom and chances are does not pine for it. In a proper cage environment, it may lead a content life. It may not have freedom but it also does not know freedom or the fear of attack or being eaten. My iguana has access to fresh air, sunlight, healthy food, mental stimulation and medical needs, all for the price of letting a few children pet her or crawling on me for a photo every now and then. Although not a perfect world, not a bad trade off considering when I got her she had 4 broken and fractured legs from Metabolic bone disease.

Humans are also more intelligent and we can step in and protect, knowing freedom in this country is a death sentence, as our climate would kill them. It is simply making the best of a bad situation.

I also believe dogs are capable of love and are not just reacting to you as a food source. You can starve a dog and it will still give its life for you if it loves you. For that same reason I believe a dog CAN enjoy performing. They bond to their owners/masters and show time is playtime.

Again, on my site I offer this...

“This leads me to animals that do well in show. Dogs for example have a great time performing. They can be trained to the point that show time for us is play time for them. Have you ever seen Dogs backstage prior to show time? They are all excited and ready to go. Jumping and barking and ready to take on the world. Almost oblivious to the
"audience," their wide emotional content allows them to play. This makes dogs special as performers.

My parrots are a different story. They do enjoy interacting with me and show time has been fun time. Their intelligence is so great in comparison to a dove I can work that to their advantage.

My birds are fed healthy food twice daily and never starved. But I do withhold snack foods until show time to make it fun for them. They fly back to me every time. Again, I say the traumas of the wild in a trade off for performing may be welcome in the more intelligent of animals.

Considering my entire collection of 40 animals are rescues from pet shops, left for dead at veterinarian offices or police depts., this is a step up from where they once were.

I do not perform dove magic (sorry guys), but I find it impossible to the mentality of a dove to find being stuffed in a bag as fun. I can't count how many times I am sweating my butt off backstage in the heat of the lights standing next to a magician fully loaded with doves who is waiting for the act performing to exit the stage. Acts never run on time, we all know that. Can any dove magician in this forum say they are not guilty of this? Poor doves. As always, I do know there are exceptions. This is all based on my personal experience.

As for work, I also would like everyone to remind performers to never overwork your animals.

I have 17 snakes and each one works approximately once a week for about an hour at 20-minute sets - that’s it. So I do believe it is possible to get a performing ethic going on SOME animals, but I wish these animals were never sold in pet shops in the first place.

This is a great discussion and I hope I have added something to the mix. I could go on and on but let’s all learn from one another, shall we?!

Hugs and Hissessss,
Maria
Dave Scribner
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Maria: I think you've captured the essence of all the posts in this thread. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said.

Just one clarifying point that seems to get into every post. A "good" dove worker does not "stuff" his birds into a bag. Many do, but I don't consider them "good." My birds sit comfortably in a dove bag with plenty of air for them. I don't load them until just before I go on stage. I may be the exception, but I've seen many magicians care for their birds the same way.
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Zack
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There are a few bad apples out there. But for the most part, I have never met a performer who works with animals who does not care deeply about his non-human partners. I know that working with my bunny has changed me very much. Performers who work with animals experience a deep and profund bond that most pet owners will never know.
SnakeBabe
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Hi Zack,

Unfortunately I have very few positive experiences with performers and their animals. I will share a few examples.

One magician kept his snake in a road case for six weeks. No access to fresh air or sunlight. The box was no larger than a suitcase, for a 7-8 foot python. He overworked this one snake for six shows a night, 7 nights a week. When he saw me backstage, he tried to impress upon me that the box is insulated to keep the snake warm. This to me only showed ignorance of reptiles in that they do not generate body heat as warm-blooded mammals do. They become the temperatures of the room around them. That places this snake in a cold temp at night situation that is terribly unhealthy, especially after eating. He went on to inform me that since it is a snake, it only needs to eat every other month. For everyone’s information, pythons should be fed every 10-14 days. There was not heat source or humidity for this tropical animal. I left in disgust.

Moving along, example #2: Over a dozen doves kept outdoors in cages during the heat of summer here in Las Vegas with little shelter from sunlight. I found myself sneaking water from a nearby dog bowl to give it to the birds who were lying on the floor of the cage that had empty water bottles. I later heard they died from dehydration.

Example #3: During a two-week run, a duck kept backstage in an air conditioned area with a vent blowing directly on it. It was in a plastic kennel carrier with no room to even move left to right. The duck did not have the ability to even turn around. There was no access to water other than a small bowl for drinking that was polluted with feces. The cage reeked. I would secretly change the water when I had access.

I could go on about rabbits in 2x2 wire floor cages for years on cruise ships or dogs dying from heat in outdoor shows in the midwest sun, but I trust I have made my point. Although I do not claim this to be the case with ALL magicians, it is my experience. Take it for what you will. It is my experience that pushes me to speak as I do.

For anyone who knows of my work or Steven’s, I am sure you are well aware we do not take much in life very seriously. When it comes to animals we draw the line, and that is why on my websites and in forums I try to persuade performers to never use animals.

Sorry to be a bummer but I am glad to hear that you care for your pets and I thank you for being a responsible pet owner.

Hugs and Hissessss,
Maria
DJ Trix
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I have smokers in my family. Is it bad for my doves if someone smokes in the room where I am training?

I have seen many magicians preform cig. manip. in a dove act or add doves in a card and cig. act. Is that ok?

Thanks.
Dave Scribner
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DJ, how do you feel when you're in a room with smokers? Is it harder for you to breathe? As I've mentioned many times before, I may go overboard with the treatment of my doves but I treat them like people. So for me, smoking in a room with the birds is a no no. Fortunately there are no smokers in my family so I don't have the problem.
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R2
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The Creator balances his checkbook always...!

Life is held together by chains made from Karma...!

Yes, it even applies to small creatures we call animals....BEWARE!

PLAY NICE!

Truly yours in all things Magic, rr.
Jason Wethington
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Maria, great posts! Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

D.J.,
It is very dangerous for your birds to be around smoke or fumes of any kind. They are extremely susceptible to toxic fumes. In fact aerosols, household cleaners, and some air and clothes fresheners (Febreeze comes to mind) are bad. There are cases in which the use of these products around birds has resulted in death.

The people that smoke need to either do it outside (or better yet quit while they are still alive) and the doves need to be moved to a properly ventilated area.

How long have people been smoking in the house where you keep the doves? You might need to clean the house thoroughly (with the birds outside if possible, weather and temperature permitting), as there will be a residue buildup on the walls and in the furniture that can present a health risk to them.

If you want a list of products that are bad for your birds, do a quick GOOGLE search as there is plenty of information out there.

Jason
DJ Trix
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But doesn't Lance Burton exhale smoke to make a candle vanish more magically and a dove is then produced from the silk? I was told from someone that Lance uses puff puff cigs though...

Thanks, they're now in my room...
highmagic
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Quote:
...all of my birds were born in captivity. None of them have ever been free and therefore know nothing different. I believe for them, they are in their habitat.


To say I respectfully disagree is quite an understatement.

IT TAKES HUNDREDS OF YEARS FOR A SPECIES TO ADAPT TO A NEW ENVIRONMENT!!!

A bird in a cage goes totally against its nature!!
Dave Scribner
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Highmagic, there's no reason you can't disagree with my opinion. That's what makes the Café what it is. This entire thread is all based on opinion. Some find nothing wrong with raising and using the birds as we do while others strongly are opposed to it. Neither opinion is going to change based on what is said here but it's interesting to see how people feel about the subject.
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