Cancelled – Plans to Exploit Owl and Python at Student Christmas Ball

Posted by 1 year ago | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wild animals aren’t party decorations. So when we heard that the University of Glasgow’s Harry Potter­–themed Yule Ball included plans to display a live owl and a live python, we immediately got in touch with the Queen Margaret University Students’ Union and the university’s principal to raise concerns about how these animals would suffer at the event. Compassionate Glaswegians and students also sent messages to the event organisers.

As a consequence, the university made the enlightened decision to cancel the live-animal display at the party. This is a great result!


Owls are wild, solitary, nocturnal predators, and it’s unnatural for them to be exposed to crowds and loud noises. Their sharp eyes are also sensitive to flash photography. And although snakes don’t display stress and discomfort as obviously as warm-blooded species do – because they don’t whine, yelp or flinch the way a dog or mouse might – constant handling leaves them prone to illness, injury and aggression. For both of these animals, being forced to pose with a long succession of (potentially drunken) students would have been a distressing and gruelling experience.

In addition, animals hired out by entertainment companies typically spend their entire lives in cages, being carted around from one performance to another, and unable to express any natural behaviour. There’s nothing “festive” about exploiting animals in this way, and we’re delighted that the university’s many compassionate students will now be able to enjoy the ball without qualms.

Thank you to everyone who objected to these ill-conceived plans – and to the event organisers, for listening!

This good news comes hot on the heels of another welcome announcement from Darlington, where plans to display live Humboldt penguins at a busy shopping centre were shelved after organisers heard from PETA and a committed group of local campaigners.

Today, we should have progressed beyond treating animals as living props and can amuse ourselves with such things as high-tech animatronics, virtual reality and video DJs. If you ever learn of an event in which live animals will be put on display, please get in touch with the organisers and ask them to change their plans. As these two successes show, your voice can make a big difference!

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  • Manel Dias commented on December 22, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Glad to hear that the Owl & Python display has been cancelled. Who needs the poor animals when you are planning to enjoy the human interacts.
    Let the Animals be happy within themselves. It is high time to wake up & get the facts straighten up, that how to Treat the Animals with love & respect they truly deserve.

  • Karen agnew commented on January 6, 2016 at 12:15 am

    Also glad to hear these creatures didn’t have to be exposed to a load of intoxicated students…..but what about all the owls and birds of prey that are on display in shopping malls and a variety of public places for our entertainment. Surely we should begin to start complaining about their treatment also!!

  • Swiv commented on January 25, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    ‘Animals hired out by animal entertainment companies typically spend their entire lives in cages, being carted around from one performance to another, and unable to express any natural behaviour’ -I highly doubt that. You really think the vast majority of animal centres that focus on education would really leave their animals unhappy and take them out to shows? Not only would that give them a bad reputation, but animal neglect would clearly be noticed by anyone with half a brain. Also, not all owls are nocturnal- snowy owls especially are diurnal- and those used in displays or for entertainment are usually gradually introduced to that sort of stimuli so they aren’t stressed out by it, and any bird or animal that was affected would simply not be shown. Also, I doubt drunken students would be permitted to handle said animals, as they would be responsible for their own actions intoxicated or not, and so would land themselves in trouble should anything happen. I see the concern and fair enough that action was taken but really not everything is evil.

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