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

Posted by on December 18, 2015 | Permalink

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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