Owls are not pets
by Marcel Gahbauer, CPF biologist
Since the arrival of the first Harry Potter movie in theatres recently, thousands of children have been exposed to the power and beauty of owls for the first time. Quite naturally, many of them may desire a pet owl of their own after watching the film - either because they are so impressed with the birds, or because they want to emulate Harry. It is important for everyone to understand that owls do not make good pets. They are not as easy to train as the movie might suggest, they have sharp talons and beaks which can inflict serious damage, and they require specialized care. Most importantly, owls are generally not bred in captivity for sale as pets. This means that any owls being sold as pets are likely to have been stolen from the wild. Many owl populations are already in decline, and cannot afford to have additional pressures placed upon them.
A small number of owls are kept in captivity for valid reasons - primarily breeding programs for release to the wild, and care of non-releasable birds (injured or human-imprinted). The Canadian Peregrine Foundation does own four non-releasable owls which form an important part of our Education Team, accompanying us to schools and public events. In most cases the owls are very familiar with their handler, and are quite at ease during these appearances. Because they appear so tame and friendly, some people assume that these owls are our pets - this is not the case! Like all of the Canadian Peregrine Foundation's other educational birds, these owls are working birds in the sense that they perform an important role in our environmental awareness programs. Despite being in close company with us during presentations, we treat them as wild animals as much as possible.
Please help us protect owls around the world by spreading the word that they should not be kept as pets. If you know of anyone who has expressed an interest in acquiring an owl, please explain to them why this is a bad idea. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns regarding this issue.
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