Time Warner Inc. accused of cruelty to owls on studio tour
Animal rights group PETA has made allegations of cruelty to owls on the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio tour.
On the "Animal Actors" tour in Hertfordshire, England, Harry Potter fans are promised a chance to meet Harry's owl, Hermione's cat and other "animal stars" from the film franchise.
After receiving many complaints from visitors concerned about the welfare of the animals, PETA filmed footage from inside the venue.
- Owls who were clearly distressed were suspended in tiny cages and repeatedly forced to perform demeaning tricks – despite showing clear reluctance.
- "Trainers" supervising the tour showed gross negligence both in handling the birds and in ensuring public safety.
- 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. As bird experts will tell you, as well as being stressful for the owls, this also interferes with the natural oils in their feathers that keep them warm.
- The trainer irresponsibly encourages visitors to purchase their own owls, stating that they are inexpensive to buy and that you "do not have to have a licence".
Harry Potter author JK 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 are urging people to sign a petition for the company to stop using live animals.
In 2010 charges were lodged against two British animal trainers who supplied a tawny owl for the production of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The RSPCA is taking the pair to court for alleged cruelty to animals.
In 2009, another UK trainer who provided some of the owls for Harry Potter films pleaded guilty to 17 cruelty-to-animals offenses after authorities found dozens of emaciated and dehydrated birds with severe injuries, overgrown beaks, and swollen and clubbed feet at the trainer’s facility. The birds were confiscated.
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