It appears that the UK is now going to follow Japan in a complete lack of animal understanding and empathy. Owl Cafes and Bars have started up over there, and now there is a pop up owl bar to start in London this March. The photos of the owls in Japan show owls that are stressed, nervous and generally miserable, if you understand and can read the body language of birds it is very obvious, sadly.
Owls are secretive birds with hearing that is superb enough to locate a mouse under snow or long grass by sound alone. Subjecting them to large numbers of humans in a noisy environment is unacceptable and cruel. The majority of birds of prey do not enjoy being stroked, the shots of a Little Owl cowering under people’s hands is unacceptable and the owner of this bird shows a complete and utter lack of understanding or care for the bird. Stroking birds removes the natural oil from their feathers rendering them less waterproof and less able to keep themselves warm. Again reading these birds’ body language will tell you what upsets them and this sort of thing will undoubtedly do so.
Putting these owls under the sort of stress they are going to be subjected to is cruel, pointless and can only be being done to gain money. There is nothing educational about this, there is nothing that benefits the conservation of owls, it is as cruel and unnecessary and as stupid as taking an owl onto Britain’s Got Talent.
This will undoubtedly start others to do the same thing, in other cities, we call for this to be stopped now before it snowballs and owls get more abused by owners. We ask if the council has granted a Zoo License for this appalling situation and if so under what justification, we ask where the owls are being kept during the day, we ask if the owner has a license to travel the birds from their home to London, what about Health and Safety issues and Risk assessments. We ask why if the owner of the owls already has a zoo license this is allowed? Will there be a vet on site for the birds? Is there a vet that would find this acceptable anyway? We hope not.
We would like to see licensing for all who are using wildlife for commercial gain and the Zoos Expert Group to do their job which they are not doing.
If you wish to add your name to the petition set up to deny permission for a pop up owl bar, you can do so here https://www.change.org/p/london-councils-deny-permission-for-a-pop-up-owl-bar
Jemima Parry-Jones MBE, CEO of The International Centre for Birds of Prey
Registered Charity Number 1159749
Newent, Gloucestershire GL18 1JJ