Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has removed the use of live owls from the production following an incident this week.
During previews of the two-part play earlier this week in London, one of the owls used in the production escaped into the auditorium, and failed to return to its handler during the opening show on Tuesday. As a result, the play’s producers have decided to remove the use of live owls from the production.
A statement, issued on behalf of the producers said: “The production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently in its preview stage… as part of this process earlier this week the decision was made not to feature live owls in any aspect of the production moving forward.”
The statement also discussed the on-set treatment of the birds saying: “The owls that were associated with the production were expertly cared for by a team of certified trainers and an on-site specialist veterinary surgeon (Steve Smith, MRCVS) who ensured the owls’ welfare and enrichment needs were safeguarded at all times.”
The animal charity PETA received the news gladly, with Director Mimi Bekhechi stating : “PETA commends the production team for coming to its senses and recognising that treating owls like props goes against every message of respect and kindness that JK Rowling’s wonderful books taught us.”
Set 19 years after the final book of the series, the Deathly Hallows, the play is based on an original story by JK Rowling, written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany. It depicts a grown-up Harry (Jamie Parker) working at the Ministry of Magic, while his youngest son Albus (Sam Clemmett) deals with the legacy of the Potter family.
The show officially opens on 30th July and will run in the West End until May 2017. You can see a message from author JK Rowling regarding the show below.