Video: Animal Abuse Exposed On ‘Harry Potter’ Tour
22 March 2015
Allegations of Cruelty to Owls Prompt PETA to Call On Warner Bros Studio to Ban Live Animals on Promotional Tours
London – Prompted by visitors’ complaints over animal abuse on the Animal Actors tour at Warner Bros Studio Tour London in Hertfordshire – where Harry Potter fans can pay to meet Harry’s owl, Hermione’s cat and other “animal stars” from the film franchise – a PETA UK investigator took the tour and found distressed owls in tiny cages 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 trainers even irresponsibly told visitors to go out and buy their own owls. You can watch the footage here.
The findings have prompted PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – to send a letter to Warner Bros Studio Tour London this morning calling on the company to commit to a ban on using live animals on tours.
“Owls are wild, solitary, nocturnal predators, and it is completely against their nature to be tethered inside tiny cages, exposed to crowds, flash photography and loud noise and forced to perform ‘tricks’. 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”, says veterinarian Dr Manilal Valliyate.
“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 JK Rowling’s wonderful books taught us”, says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. “PETA are 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’s video footage shows birds desperately chewing at their tethers and shaking 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 they are inexpensive to buy and that you “do not have to have a licence” – is extremely irresponsible, especially given the number of owls who were relinquished to sanctuaries or abandoned in the wild after the release of the Harry Potter films. 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’s letter to Warner Bros Studio Tour London is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.