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Apr 1, 2015

Sad fate for Harry Potter Owls

Photo by PETA
   People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) claims that owls are mistreated on the Harry Potter studio tour in Leavesden, England.   Ben Childs reporting in The Guardian writes that live owls which feature in a popular "studio tour" of the Harry Potter moves face "cruel" and "demeaning" conditions.   Peta posted a video to You Tube which it claims shows birds being mistreated by staff for the pleasure of visitors.   Peta said it investigated after receiving complaints from fans who took the Warner Bros. Harry Potter studio tour in Hertfordshire.   "'Trainers' supervising the tour showed gross negligence both in handling the birds and insuring public safety," said the organization on its website.   "Staff actively encouraged flash photography, despite the fact that owls have especially acute vision and find blinding camera flashes extremely distressing.   The owls respond by desperately chewing at their tethers and shaking their heads."   "A trainer also cajoled people to touch the frightened birds, ignoring signs telling people not to touch the birds".  
   "The Trainer irresponsibly encourages visitors to purchase their own owls, stating that they are inexpensive to buy and that 'do not have to have a licence'.   Companies frequently force animals into stressful highly unnatural situations and keep them shackled in small cages.   Peta pointed out that the "inexcusable mistreatment of sensitive wild animals" was contrary to statements made in the past by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who said that keeping owls in confined domestic spaces is wrong.   
   A spokesperson for Warner Bros. Studion Tour London said owls at the exhibit were exclusively handled "for short periods" by an outside company, Birds and Animals, which owned the birds, but said it was "essential to us all that the welfare of the birds and animals in their care is of the highest standard".   According to the Hollywood Reporter, Birds and Animals has now begun a review of "issues raised" after viewing the Peta footage.   The studio tour opened in early 2012 and employs more than 300 people.   It centres on the making of the eight Harry Potter films.
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