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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 16:29 GMT
Concern over Potter owl mania
Harry Potter
Harry Potter has broken box office records
The huge success of the film, Harry Potter and the Philosophers' Stone, has led to a demand for weird and wonderful gadgets and toys.

But the involvement of owls in the movie has also led to a huge demand from people who want to keep the featured creatures as pets in Northern Ireland.

However, this has alarmed the animal protection world who say that while the birds were magic for Harry Potter they make anything but good pets.

Owl expert Mike Gibb said: "They don't make good pets.

The demand for pet owls has surged in Northern Ireland
The demand for pet owls has surged in Northern Ireland

"They have very sharp talons. I have to wear a heavy glove."

Mr Bigg is a wildlife officer for the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but he is also as concerned for children as for the birds.

"Their natural instinct is to grab on - they will cut, and they don't like sitting on the hand," he said.

"They make a mess, they smell, they can lead to hospital treatment being needed."

Mike Gibb:
Mike Gibb: "Owls don't make good pets"

To help meet the new found enthusiasm for owls, the USPCA is encouraging parents and youngsters to adopt a rescued owl at one of its sanctuaries.

Such is the success of the Harry Potter film that it equalled America's biggest movie, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, in its first five days.

The Potter film and its Star Wars rival were the only two movies in US history to have grossed $100m (70.6m) in the US and Canada just after their release.

Despite Harry Potter's record figures, some box office analysts predict it will not be able to match the global might of Titanic.

See also:

22 Nov 01 | Scotland
Potter creator buys Scots hideaway
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