PETA Voices Concerns for Harry Potter Owls on Set

Mar 24, 2015

Posted by: Catherine


In the past few days, PETA has been raising awareness for the owls used on the set of the Harry Potter movies. These owls are now a part of the Leavesden Studio tour exhibits. Fans can pay to see the owls used throughout the films, the cat that held the role as Crookshanks, and other animals introduced in the Harry Potter films. The Mirror posted a video from PETA’s website, and expressed PETA’s concerns. The video shows contradictions between what the bird trainer did/said, and what the trainer was supposed to say/do. At one point during the video, the trainer encouraged guests to touch the birds, and in the next segment, followed protocol and asked visiting fans not to touch the owls. The BBC also reported Warner Bros. response to PETA’s voiced concerns.

From the Mirror (

Secret footage shot by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals shows the birds in tiny pens chewing their tethers, shaking their heads and apparently being made to do tricks for the crowds.

A trainer at The Making of Harry Potter tour also allegedly told visitors to buy their own owls, ­claiming they are inexpensive and “do not have to have a licence”.

Peta director Mimi Bekhechi, told the Sunday People : “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.”

In a letter to Warner Brothers , which runs the tour, Peta’s Yvonne Taylor claimed: “The ‘trainers’ supervising the tour showed gross negligence both in handling the birds and in ensuring public safety.

“As well as the tricks, they actively encouraged flash photography.

“Owls have especially acute vision and find blinding camera flashes extremely distressing – this can be seen in Peta’s footage as they respond by desperately chewing at their ­tethers and shaking their heads.

“A trainer cajoled people to touch the frightened birds, ignoring signs telling people not to touch the birds.

“As 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.

“One trainer tells visitors, ‘Please don’t touch the owl… I have to say that!’ even though these powerful and extremely ­agitated birds could easily have ­injured someone.

The BBC wrote of Warner Bros. response to the letter from PETA (

In response, Warner Bros Studio said: “The owls that appeared in the Harry Potter film series occasionally come to the studio tour.

“They appear for short periods and are exclusively handled by the experts at Birds and Animals, the company that owns and trains them. We have asked them to review this matter.”

A spokeswoman for Birds and Animals said: “The welfare of our birds and animals is our number one priority and we want to ensure they remain stress-free and healthy.

“The owls are always given regular breaks and closely monitored by a vet. Now that we have had the opportunity to see the footage, we have instigated a review of the issues raised.

“We will take appropriate action to ensure that the birds and animals always receive the very best care.”

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.