PETA Targets ‘Harry Potter’ Studio Tour for ‘Demeaning’ and ‘Distressing’ Owls


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) targeted the Harry Potter attraction at Warner Bros. Studios in England this week for alleged mistreatment of the exhibit’s owls.

In an investigative video taken from inside the Warner Bros. Studio Tour and posted to YouTube on Sunday, the group purports to show “owls who were clearly distressed” and trainers who “showed gross negligence both in handling the birds and in ensuring public safety.”

“Animals should never be hired out as if they were living props,” the organization said in a statement. “Companies frequently force animals into stressful, highly unnatural situations and keep them shackled in small cages and some even use cruel training methods behind the scenes. This inexcusable mistreatment of sensitive wild animals has nothing to do what Harry Potter is really about.”

PETA also charged that Studio Tour staff “actively encouraged flash photography, despite the fact that owls have especially acute vision and find blinding camera flashes extremely distressing.”

A Warner Bros. Studio Tour spokesperson defended the attraction’s inclusion of the owls in a statement:

“They appear for short periods and are exclusively handled by the experts at [animal training company] Birds and Animals,” the spokesperson said. “It is essential to us all that the welfare of the birds and animals in their care is of the highest standard.”

According to the BBC, the Birds and Animals organization has conducted an investigation into “the issues raised.”

“The owls are always given regular breaks and closely monitored by a vet,” the organization said in a statement. “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.”

Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour opened in March 2012, with sets from the film series left intact for fans to enjoy. The final film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II, wrapped production in 2010.