Allegations of Cruelty to Owls Prompts PETA U.K. to Call On Warner Bros. Studio to Ban Live Animals on Promotional Tours
For Immediate Release:
March 23, 2015
Moira Colley 202-483-7382
London – Prompted by visitors’ complaints over animal abuse on the Animal Actors tour at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London—where Harry Potter fans can pay to meet Harry’s owl, Hermione’s cat, and other “animal stars” from the film franchise—a PETA U.K. investigator took the tour and found that distressed owls were kept in tiny cages and forced to perform “tricks” in front of crowds of people and flashing lights. Members of the public were encouraged to touch the frightened birds, and one trainer even irresponsibly told visitors to go out and buy their own owls. You can watch the footage here.
The findings have prompted PETA U.K.—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—to send a letter to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London calling on the company to commit to a ban on using live animals on tours.
“Owls are wild, solitary, nocturnal predators, and it’s completely against their nature to be tethered inside tiny cages, forced to perform tricks, and exposed to crowds, flash photography, and loud noise,” says veterinarian Dr. Manilal Valliyate. “These conditions have the potential to cause them tremendous stress. They don’t enjoy the company of humans or like to be touched by them, and they need to sleep during the day, not be harassed by visitors.”
“Confining frightened owls to tiny cages where they can only chew at their tethers in frustration goes against every message of respect and kindness that J.K. Rowling’s wonderful books taught us,” says PETA U.K. Director Mimi Bekhechi. “PETA U.K. is calling on Warner Bros. Studio Tour London to make sure that the Harry Potter tour stays magical—and not cruel—by keeping live animals out of it.”
PETA U.K.’s video footage shows birds who desperately chew at their tethers and shake their heads in the blinding light of camera flashes. Touching owls, which visitors were encouraged to do, interferes with the natural oils in their feathers that keep them warm.
Encouraging visitors to purchase owls—as one trainer did, stating that they’re inexpensive to buy and you “do not have to have a license”—is extremely irresponsible, especially given the number of owls who were relinquished to sanctuaries or abandoned in the wild after the hype of the Harry Potter films had died down. As author Rowling said, “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.'”
PETA U.K.’s letter to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.