When Harry Potter first appeared in books and on screen alongside his loyal owl Hedwig, many folks were so charmed that they ran out and bought pet owls of their very own. But know that the books and movies have run their course, the magic of owning a nocturnal bird has worn off, and hundreds of owls are landing in animal shelters.
Attractive as they may be, real owls apparently spend less time delivering the mail than they do pooping and shedding their feathers, and rather than shell out $1400 for a proper aviary, many Potter fans have been getting rid of their feathered symbols of fandom. Pam Toothill, of the Owlcentre in North Wales for example, says that before the films, her sanctuary had a mere six owls. After the films, that number swelled to 100. And that's only accounting for the area's more responsible former pet owners, not the ones who simply released their domesticated owls into the wild.
It's hardly the first time that a series aimed at children has guided pet ownership decisions. Putting aside the spotted puppy craze that followed 101 Dalmatians, the article from the Mirror includes this tidbit:
The Harry Potter owl craze echoes that of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle film in the early 1990s, when thousands of unwanted pet terrapins were dumped in Britain's rivers, canals and lakes.
Hundreds of pet owls abandoned after Harry Potter craze fades [The Mirror via reddit]