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PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has been increasingly vocal as of late when it comes to the treatment of animals in the film industry. Just last week they issued a statement asking Tim Burton to change the ending of his live-action Dumbo film due to the allegations of elephant abuse in circuses. Now the animal rights group is speaking out about Hedwig and friends at the Warner Bros Studio Tour in London.
At the Warner Bros Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter there is a section on the “Animal Actors” where fans are promised a chance to meet Harry’s owl, Hedwig, Hermione's cat, Crookshanks, and many other animal stars from the franchise. According to PETA, after receiving a number of complaints from visitors on the tour, they sent out an investigator to find the truth. They found many troubling elements in the owl exhibit, which they reveal in the video below:
PETA claims that this footage shows “owls who were clearly distressed were suspended in tiny cages and repeatedly forced to perform tricks” as well as negligent trainers, and the encouragement of flash photography despite the distress it causes owls. THR reported PETA’s issued a statement condemning the Studio Tour which said:
This inexcusable mistreatment of sensitive wild animals has nothing to do with what Harry Potter is really about
A Warner Bros. Studio Tour London spokesperson quickly defended the appearance of the owls in the tour stating:
They appear for short periods and are exclusively handled by the experts at Birds and Animals [the company that owns and trains them]. It is essential to us all that the welfare of the birds and animals in their care is of the highest standard.
But, Birds and Animals seemed to have some concern after viewing the PETA footage from the tour. The organization issued their own statement claiming they would start a review of the issues raised to ensure “that the birds and animals always receive the very best care”.
The conclusion Birds and Animals will come to is uncertain, but PETA is standing ground in their statement. They believe that the owls are left frightened in their tiny cages which is completely contrary to what J.K. Rowling wrote in the Harry Potter series. PETA director Mimi Bekhechi put it best when she said that the organization was calling out the Studio Tour to make sure they keep it “magical — and not cruel”.