J.K. Rowling's plea to Potter fans: Stop killing all those owls!

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Marc Bernardin
Dec 17, 2012

I'm sure if you look back through pop-culture history and cross-referenced it with pet purchases, you'll find that lots of kids bought turtles during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze, people got tabbies like Garfield to share Mondays with, and, yes, owl ownership boomed during Potter's reign. But now it's not so cute anymore.

And there are bird sanctuaries in the U.K. that are overflowing with unwanted owls. According to Pam Toothill, of the Owlcentre in Corwen, North Wales:

"Before the films were out I had six owls, now it's 100. It's all down to ­Harry Potter. 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. They are quite costly to look after. Ideally you need a 20ft aviary, and that costs about £900. 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 Toothill isn't alone—similar stories are coming out of other sanctuaries throughout England. And that's not taking account of the owls that were illegally released into the wild, where they're woefully unable to fend for themselves after years in captivity.

It's gotten so bad that Rowling has asked her legion of fans to reconsider:

"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."

(The Mirror via Jezebel)