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Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter studio tour in the U.K. came under fire on Monday for “cruelty” to owls on exhibit.
“This inexcusable mistreatment of sensitive wild animals has nothing to do with what Harry Potter is really about,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said in a statement decrying the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London — The Making of Harry Potter at its Leavesden facility just outside of London.
PETA posted to YouTube a video of the studio tour in which it claimed to show “owls who were clearly distressed were suspended in tiny cages and repeatedly forced to perform demeaning tricks,” trainers being negligent while handling the birds, and staff encouraging flash photography.
In a statement, a Warner Bros. Studio Tour London spokesperson defended the appearance of owls from the Harry Potter movie franchise in the U.K. 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],” the studio said.
“It is essential to us all that the welfare of the birds and animals in their care is of the highest standard,” the spokesperson added. Birds and Animals in its own statement said it had started a “review of the issues raised” after viewing the PETA footage posted online.
“We will take appropriate action to ensure that the birds and animals always receive the very best care,” the organization said. PETA director Mimi Bekhechi in a statement said confining “frightened owls to tiny cages where they can only chew at their tethers in frustration” was contrary to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series.
“PETA are calling on Warner Bros. Studio Tour London to make sure that the Harry Potter tour stays magical — and not cruel — by keeping live animals out of it,” she said.
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