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Have Owls Become Popular Pets Because of “Harry Potter”?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was translated into Indonesian in 2000, and the film adaptation was released in Indonesia the following year. One of the most beloved animal characters from the franchise is Hedwig, Harry's pet snowy owl. Wildlife researchers aren’t positive, but they strongly suspect that the popularity of the Harry Potter books and films has led to an alarming increase in the number of owls being purchased illegally at Indonesian markets, which are well-known for selling wild birds as pets. A 2017 survey found that bird markets on Bali and Java reported a few hundred sales a year before 2001, compared to the 13,000 owls sold in 2016.

More about Indonesia's owl trade:

  • "Harry Potter normalized keeping owls as pets," says researcher Vincent Nijman of Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom. The study appeared in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation.
  • Owls are called burung hantu in Malay, although they are now commonly referred to as burung Harry Potter, meaning "Harry Potter birds."
  • The most popular owls sold in Indonesia are scops owls, some of which are classified as endangered species. Owls can usually be purchased at Indonesian markets for affordable prices ranging from $6 to $30 USD.

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