India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said that owls in the country are being taken from the wild by Harry Potter fans who want to keep the birds as pets. It’s unclear what evidence Ramesh has to back up his claim, but he said that the decline of owls in the wild coincided with the increased popularity of Harry Potter in India. He also said that urban middle classes families were, in part, responsible because they were capturing owls to give as pets to their children who like Harry Potter. Meanwhile, the wildlife group Traffic reported that wild owls in India are being illegally trapped and traded to be used for black magic rituals and other purposes.
In the Harry Potter film and book series, the boy wizard has a snowy owl named Hedwig who is his faithful companion.
This story really struck a nerve with me. I happen to love owls and every year I adopt a Snowy Owl from Defenders of Wildlife, an organization dedicated to help protect the species out in the wild. If a child really loves owls now thanks to Harry Potter, then the best thing a parent can do is donate to a wildlife fund dedicated to protecting owls — NOT take the owls from their natural environment and keep them as a pet. If middle class families are doing this, that means they can spare the $25 for the donation, which includes a small plush owl, a personalized certificate, a photo of the owl, and a fact sheet. (See this photo of one of my cats, Sixx, sitting with Snowy, my plush owl that came with my donation to Defenders of Wildlife.)
Here in the United States, parents will run out to get their children pet bunnies for Easter, only to abandon or return these pets once the holiday is over when they realize the difficulty in caring for such an animal. Therefore, I wouldn’t put it passed anyone to do the same with owls for their children who like Harry Potter.
[Source: AFP via Gawker]