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Refundio! British kids ditching pet owls in droves as memory of Harry Potter films fade

Gabriel Ruzin

May 21st, 2012

Harry Potter's pet owl Hedwig

All across the United Kingdom, a certain species of unlucky chordata aves is rapidly learning what most of us have known for a long time: Pop-culture attention spans can be cruel mistresses.

Now that HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2’s November, 2011 release (the last of the beloved series) has been inexorably delegated to the status of ‘back burner fare’, children all across the UK are moving on. Out with the old Firebolt 5000s and horcrux replicas; in with metrosexual vampire gear and Katniss dolls. It is the way of the entertainment world.

Sadly, the irresistible force of popular trends has not been relegated to plastic toys and accessories, but has also affected hundreds of ill-advised pre-teen purchases of living animals. UK’s The Mirror is reporting that huge numbers of pet owls bought during Harry Potter's heyday are being unceremoniously dumped at shelters or released into the wild after their owners have, quite simply, tired of them. While the books and films slowly fade from the UK’s national consciousness, the owls (who can live upwards of 20 years) stubbornly refuse to die honorably or conveniently magic themselves into a more in-vogue pop-culture object.

Indeed, their unprepared owners have quickly found that owning owls, with their advanced dietary and spatial needs, is less of a magical experience and more of a “this stupid huge owl is stinking up my bedroom” experience. Larger species of barn owls, a popular choice among Hedwig admirers, require cages as large as 20 square feet, which can cost several hundred dollars to purchase and maintain.

British pet shelters have become overloaded with mobs of the unwanted creatures, pet stores have been besieged by sob stories of buyer’s remorse, and those seeking an even quicker exit from aviary foster care face up to six months in jail if they are caught attempting to take the easy way out by emancipating their winged critters to the great wide open. Beyond potential incarceration time for the owner, the latter type of owl abandonment has also been responsible for environmental ripple effects, as domesticated barn owls tend to quickly muscle in on smaller wild owls and disrupt ecosystems when they choose their new digs.

The problem is so severe that J.K. Rowling, the accidental instigator of Britain’s owl craze, has taken to publicly speaking out against the practice. “If anybody has been influenced to think an owl would be happiest shut in a cage and kept in a house,” Rowling recently said, “I would like to take this opportunity to say as forcefully as I can – ‘you are wrong’.”

So let that be a lesson to you kids out there: no matter how hyped a new book or film or toy is, eventually tiring of it and all its many facets is inevitable. Those tempted to buy a living thing based on its temporary popularity might behoove themselves to track down a copy of a little 1984 horror/comedy called GREMLINS and pay close attention to its tagline: "What you see isn’t always what you get."

Maybe then, the next potential mass de-adoption might be avoided before it has begun.

Source The Mirror

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