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Pet owls abandoned as Potter craze fades

Sanctuaries are full of owls that have been abandoned across the UK, now that the craze has faded after the release of the final Harry Potter film last year.

world Updated: May 21, 2012 23:25 IST

Sanctuaries are full of owls that have been abandoned across the UK, now that the craze has faded after the release of the final Harry Potter film last year.

And it’s feared that many more might have been illegally released into the wild and will have starved to death or taken over territory inhabited by smaller wild owls.

There was a surge in demand for pet owls from fans who fell in love with Harry’s cute feathered companion — Hedwig.

But the birds, which can live for 20 years, take a lot of looking after and many owners are fed-up of repeatedly having to clean up garages and sheds of their droppings and feathers.

One rescue worker says she now has to care for 100 owls at her sanctuary.

“Before the films were out, I had six owls. Now, it’s 100. It’s all down to Harry Potter,” the Mirror quoted Pam Toothill, of the Owlcentre in Corwen, North Wales, as saying.

“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 in looking after an owl.

“Ideally you need a 20ft aviary, and that costs about 900 pounds. I know it’s not JK Rowling’s fault, but people didn’t think enough about buying an owl before getting one,” she said.

She also revealed that 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.

Rowling has urged fans not to follow their hero and keep an owl. “One would be wrong to think an owl would be happiest shut in a cage and kept in a house,” she has said.