BEIJING — Animal activists in China say a now-famous magic trick with goldfish swimming in sync for the Lunar New Year may have involved abuse including implanted magnets, and are asking the state broadcaster not to air it again.
Hundreds of millions of people watched the magic trick during a China Central Television gala on the Jan. 30 eve of the Lunar New Year festival. The gala is China's most-watched broadcast of the year.
Goldfish are a symbol of wealth in China, but the image of six of them swimming in perfect sync under magician Fu Yandong's direction alarmed some Chinese, who worried that magnets were implanted in the fish or that they were controlled by electric current.
Fifty-three animal rights groups and other groups have sent a letter to CCTV asking it not to let Fu perform the trick again during Thursday's broadcast of the Lantern Festival, which ends the Lunar New Year events.
"We should stand for nonviolence, harmony and tolerance, but to my great surprise CCTV, the state broadcaster, tells the public we can use animals for entertainment. I think this is just wrong," said Qing Shaona, director of the Capital Animal Welfare Assn.