Trading on owls and their imagery, immiserating the species

Mother Jones has this sad link to a story about the proliferating owl trade, given parent’s desire to give raptors as toys to children in the aftermath of Harry Potter:

This week, India’s minister of the environment blamed Potter’s popularity for boosting the illegal bird market in his country. “Following Harry Potter, there seems to be a strange fascination even among urban middle classes for presenting their children with owls,” minister Jairam Ramesh told the BBC. Ramesh isn’t the only one noticing the trend: in the UK, there is now a shelter for the owls dumped by owners when the magic of caring for a large raptor wore off. Shelter operator Don Walser told the Telegraph that he is rehabilitating owls from all over England, and is particularly dismayed by “a pair of snowy owls that were left in a garden by their owners for three days without food. They would have died. It was disgusting.”

Here’s a thing that parents can do: it’s the word “no.” Is it really that hard to understand that animals have agency beyond that of being human playthings?

The rest of the story is just depressing. I wouldn’t have a huge problem with indigenous rituals if animals are not endangered and they are destroyed humanely, but requesting them as party favors strikes me as blazing new trails in “urban=stupid about wild animals” history. And with all the bajillions made off the Harry Potter movies, you can’t pony up decent conditions for the animals in the film?