Warner Bros. Confirms No More Live Owls At Harry Potter Theme Parks & Shows

The Protego Foundation, a Harry Potter charity, posts about success following discussions with … [+]

Live owls will no longer be used at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks, Warner Bros. confirmed to a fan-made non-profit inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.

Speaking exclusively to Tylor Starr, president and founder of Wizarding World inspired animal rights group, the Protego Foundation, Warner Bros. confirmed that Universal Parks & Resorts (home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) and all future officially licensed Harry Potter live shows will no longer be using live owls.

This is not the first time the Protego Foundation have influenced Warner Bros. and Universal Studios with regards to the use of live owls. In 2014, the organization pointed out the use of live owls tied to a pedestal in the opening ceremony and at photo opportunities during the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Osaka, Japan. Following the Protego Foundation condemning these images on social media, these photos opportunities with owls were stopped by the parks.

Protego Foundation president Tylor Starr said on the recent commitment by Warner Bros.:

“We learn in the Harry Potter series that owls are sensitive and remarkably intelligent birds who should be treated with kindness and respect. They shouldn’t be subjected to loud music, large crowds, and flashing lights.

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“The Protego Foundation is so thankful to Warner Bros. and the Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team for honoring Hedwig, Errol, and other beloved owls by implementing such a kind policy to help other sensitive owls like them.”

Following this change, fans of the series and attendees at the parks will be able to visit an unofficial resource on The Protego Foundation’s website, showing all historic instances of owls being used for entertainment purposes in the Wizarding World fandom. Fans and attendees of future Wizarding World events will also be able to report the use of live owls for entertainment purposes at live events via a “report” function on the Protego Foundation’s website, launching March 31st.

The commitment by Warner Bros. to the Protego Foundation to no longer use live owls in any future live show was celebrated on the most recent episode of The Chickpeeps, a vegan and animal rights podcast created by Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch (who played Luna Lovegood in the film series), and co-hosted by the Protego Foundation’s president, Tylor Starr.

In the past, Warner Bros. also retired the use of live owls from productions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Initial shows on London’s West End in 2016 featured the use of live owls, before an incident during an early showing of the production in which an owl flew into the auditorium, endangering the owl. After this incident, the production was altered and signs were displayed outside the theatre stating that any birds in cages seen on stage were not real, but merely highly realistic props, and that “no real birds” featured in the production. Animal rights campaigning group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) welcomed the decision at the time.

J.K. Rowling has also previously condemned fans purchasing owls illegally to keep as pets. The author said in 2012:

“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,’

“The owls in Harry Potter books were never intended to portray the true behaviour or preference of real owls. If your owl-mania seeks concrete expression, why not sponsor an owl at a bird sanctuary, where you can visit and know that you have secured him or her a happy, healthy life.”

The author also tweeted another warning against ignoring the welfare of owls in 2017:

The Protego Foundation will be sending a gift of owl-shaped vegan chocolates to thank Warner Bros. and the Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team for this commitment.

*Disclaimer: Author is host on The Protego Foundation’s podcast, ProtegoCast.

I am Senior Editor of leading Harry Potter website The Leaky Cauldron (the-leaky-cauldron.org) and have had the opportunity to interview people behind the films, plays,

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