Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Monday, 9 June 2008 13:15 UK

Abandoned owls blamed on Potter

Snowy owl
The snowy owl, like Hedwig in Harry Potter, is an endangered species

An increase in the number of owls abandoned at a rescue centre in Flintshire has been blamed on the Harry Potter books.

Children keen to have their own owl like Harry's Hedwig, a snowy owl, are getting the birds as pets.

But staff at the Flintshire Wildlife and Pet Rescue Centre in Holywell said the children find they cannot cope once they have them.

Staff said they had also received calls from people wanting to buy owls.

In JK Rowling's book series and also in the hit films, owls of all kinds feature prominently.

The centre's co-owner Joy Pierce Jones said they were currently caring for 36 owls including tawny and barn owls, and she estimated that at least half of these were due to Harry Potter.

She said owls were not suitable as pets for young children, particularly not the large owls like Hedwig, and required a great deal of care.

It is a very nice pet but you have to have the commitment and children have not got that commitment to go and do what is necessary
Joy Pierce Jones, Flintshire Wildlife and Pet Rescue Centre

"You need to go into the bird's aviary at least once every day and preferably two or three times a day to keep them quiet when you go near them," she said.

"This is the breeding time for owls and a lot of them either have eggs or chicks, and they become dangerous at this time of year because they are protecting their young.

"It is a very nice pet but you have to have the commitment.

"Children have not got that commitment to go and do what is necessary to make sure there is food defrosted the night before to feed them the next day.

"If you want to fly him you have to starve him the night before and just give him titbits when he flies back to you."

Ms Jones said one man had offered her 1,000 for a snowy owl, which is an endangered species.

"People want these owls for small children but they are not suitable for small children, especially the large owls like Hedwig in the Harry Potter film," she said.

Ms Jones added they suspected that some owls in their centre had been sold to people in pub car parks.

"The people who are selling owls to people as pets don't care that you have knowledge of how to look after them."

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20 Jul 07 |  Sussex
Buying owls as pets causes a flap
06 Jan 05 |  Leicestershire
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05 Nov 02 |  England
Potter sparks pet owl demand
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