By Allyson Koerner, Ecorazzi
It’s no secret that the “Harry Potter” books and films are pretty powerful and influential, but did you know it may be the cause of the abandonment of hundreds of pet owls?
According to the Mirror, fans of the J.K. Rowling series bought owls because of the books and now that the craze has faded, so has the love for their pets. As a result, sanctuaries are now full of abandoned owls and it is feared that some owners have released the wise creatures illegally into the wild, where they’ll most likely starve to death and/or take over areas where smaller wild owls live.
If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know, Harry Potter, the main character of the seven books, has his own owl called Hedwig, and furthermore owls deliver mail to and from the witch and wizard school of Hogwarts.
Similar to the characters, fans became obsessed with owls, but they aren’t easy creatures to take care of and can live for about 20 years. Like most animals, owls come with commitment, but now people don’t want to take that responsibility seriously.
“Before the films were out I had six owls, now it’s 100. It’s all down to Harry Potter,” Pam Toothill of the Owlcentre in Corwen, North Wales said. “People saw Harry’s owl in the movies and thought how cute and cuddly they looked. Now they are bored and fed-up with all the work involved looking after an owl.”
Toothill also said, “I know it’s not J.K. Rowling’s fault, but people didn’t think enough about buying an owl before getting one. Owls need enough space to be able to flap their wings five times before landing back on a perch, or they get a chest infection.
“But we had one lady who was keeping two owls in her bedside cabinet in her bedroom. And there was a chap with a European Eagle Owl, which has a 5 feet wingspan, in his one-bedroom flat. It’s insane.”
Just like having a dog or cat, owning an owl is legal, but if you’re caught releasing an owl you can go to jail for six months or pay a fine over $7,000.
Even author Rowling has pleaded with fans to not keep an owl as a pet. “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.’
“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,” she said.
In 2010, India also experienced its own owl catastrophe. Parents were capturing wild owls as gifts for their children, and some were trading and killing birds for the use of black magic rituals during the Hindu holiday of Diwali.
Owls are not to be taken for granted and abandoned. Please rethink such actions, before causing harm to these creatures.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons