If you’ve been to any of The Protego Foundation’s Book Club meetings, you know that some of our favorite characters in the Potter books are the Boy Who Lived’s feathered, high flying owl friends.
Hedwig, Hermes, Errol, Pigwidgeon, and countless unnamed Hogwarts school owls appear throughout the seven-book series, and they always seem to leave a big impression. Especially Hedwig, who is known for her feisty and sassy personality!
But as much as we love all of the owls in the wizarding world, the one thing we don’t love is the treatment of owls by the magical community at large. Witches and wizards rely on these majestic creatures to deliver their post, and when they’re not “in use,” they’re often confined to cages. Unlike Kneazles, Crups, and Puffskeins (magical creatures comparable to cats, dogs, and hamsters), owls are not domesticated.
We are thrilled to announce that Warner Bros. has confirmed that no live owls will ever make an appearance at any live productions licensed by them going forward. This includes all Universal Parks and Resorts “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” locations, including Orlando, Hollywood, Osaka, and the forthcoming park in Beijing!
These inquisitive and spellbinding creatures have become so synonymous with the wizarding world that it’s not surprising that the theme parks wanted to imitate the Potter films by bringing real owls into the mix.
But, as Hermione Granger and Newt Scamander would likely assert, there’s hardly anything magical about restraining owls to pedestals for photo-ops.
These fascinating birds of prey are free-spirited and keenly intelligent. They’re well known for their lengthy lifespans (they can easily reach 30 to 35 years) and their solitary nature. Owls, more often than not, would rather hunt on their own than be around people or other animals.
Owls have distinct nutritional needs, high energy levels, and are prone to destructive behavior when held in captivity. Owls need to have the space and freedom to stretch their wings -- not just in terms of how far they fly, but literally, some owls have wingspans of more than 4 feet -- so being crammed into woefully undersized cages is a recipe for misery and stress.
We’re even more overjoyed that Warner Bros. has also confirmed that no live owls will make appearances in any of their licensed Harry Potter live productions!
Our president and co-founder, Tylor Starr, is positively buzzing with gratitude over the rights holder’s thoughtful decision. “The Protego Foundation is thankful to Warner Bros. and the Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team for honoring Hedwig, Errol, and other beloved owls.”
Starr continues, “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.”
When “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” opened in Osaka, Japan in 2014, the opening ceremony featured live owls, and the park offered photo ops with live owls tied to a pedestal.
Warner Bros.’s decision to permanently exclude live owl experiences is a victory for owls and Potterhead animal rights activists alike!
But it’s not over yet!
We need you, our amazing magical fandom community, to keep fighting to make compassionate choices for owls!
We’re setting up a new online resource that includes a record of the use, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of owls in the entertainment industry. And, we’re setting up a place on our website where you can report any instances of live owls currently being used for entertainment purposes. That page is going live on March 31st, so be sure to check back soon!