Owl-themed bar backlash forces booze banBy Melita Kiely
Criticism from animal rights activists has forced the organisers of an owl-themed pop-up bar to swap cocktails for smoothies, as the group’s designated charity also backed out of the event.
Annie the Owl is set to open in Soho, London, from 19-25 March combining cocktails with a live-owl exhibition overseen by the expertise of professional falconers.
So far, more than 65,000 people, equal to more than 125,000 tickets, have entered into the ballot entry system, which organisers claim is because people “love owls” not alcohol.
However, animal welfare groups raised concerns over serving alcohol in the same vicinity of live animals and as such the bar has decided to remove the provision of two alcoholic provisions per person in favour of two smoothies.
An online petition to ban the pop-up bar from launching has received more than 24,000 signatures to-date.
Organisers of Annie the Owl had intended to donate all proceeds from the event to the Barn Owl Centre, which works to help conservation of owls in the UK, however the charity has now decided not to be associated with the event.
Annie the Owl founders said the charity knew of the event before and had previously agreed to accept the funds.
Organisers explained the venue is set across three floors and that the owls have been involved in much larger events in the past, such as TV shows, weddings, photo shoots, carnivals and country fairs.
Animal welfare concerns
“The organisers of Annie the Owl would like to assure that during the operating hours of the sit-down event, all possible measures are being taken to safeguard the owls’ welfare,” the organisers of Annie the Owl said in a statement.
“After some concerns from animal welfare groups regarding the provision of two alcoholic drinks per person at Annie the Owl, the organisers have decided to no longer serve alcoholic drinks/cocktails during the event.
“The organisers would also like to clarify that, after a series of misunderstandings, they have regretfully accepted the Barn Owl Centre’s wishes to no longer be associated with the event.
“All attendees will be briefed on arrival on how to behave during the event. They will also be briefed that the owls should not be considered as pets and the event itself is to raise donation for the species’ conservation.”
Annie the Owl organisers are now working with the Westminster Council and the government’s animal health inspector from the Markets and Consumer Protection at the Animal Health and Welfare division to ensure the event has addressed all necessary measures to ensure the owls’ welfare.
All proceeds will now to go another sanctuary partners to raise awareness and funds for the protection of owls.