‘Harry Potter’ Stage Show Praised for Dropping Live Owls From Performance

For Immediate Release:

9 June 2016


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 222; [email protected]


PETA Commends Production for Recognising That Animals Are Not Props

London – PETA has received news from the West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that it will not use owls in future shows. The confirmation came after Tuesday’s preview performance, during which one of the birds reportedly escaped backstage.

“PETA commends the production team for coming to its senses and recognising that treating owls like props goes against every message of respect and kindness that JK Rowling’s wonderful books taught us”, says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. “Harry Potter can now join the ranks of innovative stage productions like War Horse, The Lion King and Running Wild which prove that animals need not be exploited for the theatre – and that the possibilities of prop design are limited only by our own creativity.”

PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”, points out that there are serious welfare concerns associated with the use – and abuse – of wild animals for entertainment. Owls in particular are solitary, nocturnal predators, and it goes completely against their nature to be subjected to crowds of people and bright lights from theatre productions. Having endured a life of human handling and “training” does not remove their innate fears, temperaments or basic welfare needs, and theatre conditions have the potential to cause them tremendous stress.

Last year the Harry Potter brand was criticized for using wild animals during the “Animal Actors” tour at Warner Bros Studio in Hertfordshire – where Harry Potter fans could pay to meet Harry’s owl and other “animal stars” from the film franchise – a PETA investigator found distressed owls who were kept in tiny cages and forced to perform “tricks” in front of crowds of people. Members of the public were encouraged to touch the frightened birds, and trainers even irresponsibly told visitors to go out and buy their own owls. The video footage also shows birds desperately chewing at their tethers and shaking their heads in the blinding light of camera flashes. The footage can be seen here.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.