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Community / Public space

London is getting a pop-up owl bar

This spring’s most anticipated event: a “pop-up owl bar” is coming to London. There will be cocktails. And there will be six real, live owls flapping around.

“Annie the Owl” will be located, of course in Soho, and will run for a week from 19-25 March. The event is already so popular that guests must enter a ballot to compete for tickets:

A £20 ticket will buy you two cocktails plus two hours of (wait for it) “Unique Owl Indulgence”. Cocktails are named things like “The Hoot” and the “Owl-Presso Martini”. 

We’ve aired our objections to owl-themed eating and drinking establishments before, but just to reiterate: owls are not pets – they don’t really like humans. They are also nocturnal, which at least makes the bar idea more feasible than Tokyo’s owl cafes, where sad, tired owls nod off amongst excitable patrons:

Image: trendy.nikkeibp.co.jp

On a happier note, a chunk of this bar’s profits will go to the Barn Owl Centre, a birds and wildlife conservation charity. Its website also assures visitors that the owls are “trained to be around the public” and will be accompanied by “professional falconers” (wrong species, but we presume – well, hope – the skills are transferable).  

The website also features surreal “biographies” of each of the owls. Here are Darwin, who sounds like a member of Henry VIII’s court; and Ruby, who is going to just love spending time in a packed Soho bar:

And then there’s this:

We’ve no idea, either. 

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Update, 16/10:

Someone has now launched a petition to Westminster Council, asking them to deny permission for the owl cafe to go ahead:

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. Even though these birds are captive bred for their work with the general public, to put them into this environment is a disaster waiting to happen.

The petition also quotes guidance from the Hawk Board:

If handling by the public is allowed then [birds of prey] should have rest periods and not be exposed to over-handling by inexperienced individuals. Generally excessive touching and stroking is stressful to birds of prey and should be discouraged.

At time of writing the petition has 2,130 signatures. 

Let your conscience guide you.
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