Revealed: Owls Mistreated at Harry Potter Tour
An eyewitness investigator found distressed birds kept tethered in tiny cages for hours and forced to perform tricks at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.
On the "Animal Actors" tour at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London in Hertfordshire, England, Harry Potter fans are promised a chance to meet Harry's owl, Hermione's cat and other "animal stars" from the film franchise.
After receiving many complaints from visitors concerned about the welfare of the animals, a PETA investigator took the tour to find out the truth.
The troubling findings included:
- Owls who were clearly distressed were suspended in tiny cages and repeatedly forced to perform demeaning tricks – despite showing clear reluctance.
- "Trainers" supervising the tour showed gross negligence both in handling the birds and in ensuring public safety.
- Staff actively encouraged flash photography, despite the fact that owls have especially acute vision and find blinding camera flashes extremely distressing. The owls respond by desperately chewing at their tethers and shaking their heads.
- A trainer also cajoled people to touch the frightened birds, ignoring signs telling people not to touch the birds. As bird experts will tell you, as well as being stressful for the owls, this also interferes with the natural oils in their feathers that keep them warm.
- The trainer irresponsibly encourages visitors to purchase their own owls, stating that they are inexpensive to buy and that you "do not have to have a licence".
Animals should never be hired out as if they were living props. Companies frequently force animals into stressful, highly unnatural situations and keep them shackled in small cages and some even use cruel training methods behind the scenes.
This inexcusable mistreatment of sensitive wild animals has nothing to do with what Harry Potter is really about. As JK Rowling has said herself:
If anybody has been influenced by my books to think an owl would be happiest shut in a small cage and kept in a house, I would like to take this opportunity to say as forcefully as I can, "you are wrong".
There's nothing magical about cruelty to animals. Please ask Warner Bros Studios to stop exploiting animals for entertainment and end the unethical Animal Actors tours!
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