Why London's owl bar could be shut down before it even opens

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Sunday 01 March 2015 14:50

It was supposed to be London's hippest new 'just one thing' bar, but thousands of people have signed a petition calling on Westminster Council to deny the city's first pop-up 'owl bar' permission to trade.

Located in a secret Soho location for only seven days from 19 March, Annie the Owl bar promises to allow patrons to sip cocktails whilst petting one of six live owls.

Although the birds have been trained to be around people and the owners say that all possible measures have been taken to ensure their welfare, animal rights campaigners say the event is cruel.

Many experienced falconers, owl lovers and raptor experts have major concerns about this pop up cocktail bar where it appears alcohol, the general public and birds of prey will be mixing.

It is one thing to raise awareness of owls and the help that they might need to thrive in the wild, but it is quite another to tether them up in a cocktail bar and have people touching them and handling them.

Five owls working for 6 hours over 7 nights for public entertainment and money making is downright unfair and cruel, if that’s the way to spread a message of conservation, I’d rather not have it spread.

  • Sarah Stafford, Change.org petitioner

At time of publishing, more than 16,000 people had signed the petition and the Barn Owl Centre charity, which was initially supposed to benefit from ticket sales, has withdrawn its support.

The event's organiser, however, told the Evening Standard that despite the bad publicity 35,000 people have signed up to attend.

More: This photographer has created a stunning series of owl portraits