My mother loves animals. I was lucky to grow up with some of them. Cows, chickens, dogs, cats, guinea pigs and many more. In my opinion, if you are completely jobless, observing an animal is the perfect thing to do! Just being close and experiencing it’s presence soothes you. However though, zoos never attracted me. As a child I visited one or two times. I remember stopping at the tiger’s cage and thinking, this animal can easily rule an entire jungle, right now has less freedom than a stray dog! So never really visited any zoo again. But I did want to get a glimpse of wild animals. This is another of my hidden motives for going on a hike. While hiking in Japan I got see deer, Japanese serows, wild boars, many many species of birds.. sheer bliss.
Last year’s spring me and a friend were hiking on a less explored trail. There were no campsites near by so decided to go for a wild camp. Found a good spot near a stream. Bonfire.. dinner.. and bear attack stories followed by not so peaceful sleep. Early morning around 4:30 I heard something other than my friend snoring. I thought should be a monkey. Now back in India, I had seen troop of monkeys attacking people and snatching food.. they never travel alone. I was worried but the sleeping bag was warm and too comfortable to go out and do something. I sat up and started to see in the direction of the sound. I saw a tiny grey bird on a tree just next to me. By now I had guessed it that the little guy was a happily hooting owl! He was facing the other way but as soon as he heard me moving in my sleeping bag turned his head 180 degrees. He looked at me with startled expressions! Or may be that’s how owls look? That was my first time seeing an owl so close.. he scratched his head hooted one more time and flew away. Probably for him, it was time to go to bed. His thought lingered in my mind for most of the day.
Meanwhile in Tokyo owls were gaining popularity. Japan has many animal cafes. Now for those who don’t know what an animal cafe is.. houses in Japan are small so owning a pet is difficult. People tend to visit cat or dog cafe to satisfy their need to play with their favorite animal. Since last few years, this trend has gone a little bizarre. Reptile cafe, cafes of different birds are growing..
Among these unfortunate animals is owl! There are two main reasons why owls are popular. One is of course the Harry Potter movies.. another is, in Japan owls are considered lucky. My curiosity grew and I started going through the YouTube for getting an idea of these cafes. Since this kind of trend is not there anywhere else but Japan, people were fascinated. Reactions were mixed.
I decided to go myself and see if they really treat the birds nicely. Timings were convenient for humans. Considering owls to be nocturnal creatures, doing day shift everyday must be tough.
This cafe is in the middle of a busy area. I went inside. Yellow lights and music first caught my attention. Got my ticket and started taking the so called tour. I was curious why they were not moving. Each owl was tied to a branch. You can pet them! Owl is a wild animal. In which universe petting an owl seems natural?! The trees were all made out of plastic.
I did not use my ‘privilege’ to touch the owl but even going closer was painful to watch. They’ll just stare at you helplessly. I was there not just to observe the conditions but also to observe what kind of people visit these places. Most of them were selfie addict tourists. I wonder how insensitive one has to be, not to understand the agony of another living being.
“Owls have acute hearing and vision and are birds of prey who have evolved perfectly for flight and precision hunting,” said Peta in a statement. “It’s cruel to deny wild animals the opportunity to fulfill their basic behavioral needs by intensively confining them and exposing them to constant human harassment.”
Unfortunately, the meaning of animal abuse is not understood by many of us. Confining these birds in a small place, tying their feet and denying them the right to fly free in the sky is in fact an abuse! The nature of these birds is not to be awake during the daytime, they are completely nocturnal and they are definitely not used to humans! There are many cases where they did not survive this stress.
I am not sure if this write up will change anything; but I am going to give it try. People who have already visited these, I request you to think again.. think if it feels right to be so close to a bird which only belong in wild… think before you post any positive review on your social media… save them from profit cruelty..
I also request you to take literally 5 minutes out of your time and sign the below mentioned petition.. empathize and contribute…