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Last Updated: Monday January 03 2005 18:11 GMT

Potter fans told 'don't buy owls'

Barn owl
Wildlife experts are warning Harry Potter fans not to buy pet owls but to sponsor them instead.

The success of the books and films about the teenage wizard and his owl Hedwig have increased the number of barn owls being bought as pets.

But some owners get tired of their owls and release them into the wild, where not many of them survive.

This is because many of the barn owls, which cost around 30 or 40, have been brought up by humans.

Having lived life as a pet, they find it difficult to hunt for food and to mix with other owls in the wild.

Although it is not against the law to bring up owls in captivity, it is illegal to release them into the wild.

Barn owls, the most popular type of pet owls, can live for 30 years - long after their young owners have grown up.


Gay Christie runs Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust in Beith, Ayrshire - a charity which treats injured birds and animals and then releases them back into the wild.

She said: "Owls live far too long for people to make a commitment to them.

"Life for a pet owl can be very miserable. They are not living the life an owl should be living and in a lot of cases they are on their own."

She added: "Anyone who is really interested in owls should contact their local wildlife rescue centre where they can often sponsor injured or young owls that will hopefully be returned to the wild."

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