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Posted by W von Papinešu on December 14, 2002 at 06:53:45:
In Reply to: Re: Press: Potter fans warned off snake gifts posted by Alana on December 05, 2002 at 13:07:36:
And so it starts ...
BELFAST TELEGRAPH (Northern Ireland) 14 December 02 Potter-mania alert over exotic pets - Concern over demands for Christmas gifts (Fiona McIlwaine Biggins)
Northern Ireland's only volunteer wildlife ambulance and advice service has been inundated with calls from parents seeking information about where to purchase owls, snakes and spiders as Christmas presents.
And it's all due to children's mania with Harry Potter.
Mike Gibb of Wildlife Rescue said: "Don't buy wee Jimmy a 10-foot boa constrictor for Christmas without proper consideration first!"
The continuing Harry Potter mania has seen owls, snakes and spiders literally 'creep' up the list of top present requests.
Mr Gibb said: "We have had numerous calls from people wanting to know where they can buy a snowy owl like Hedwig from Harry Potter or a snake or spider like those in the movie.
"Some are really serious about having an exotic creature or bird of prey and many make great pets if you are well-informed and look after them properly.
"However, a lot of the calls we have received have raised our concerns as the people seem to know little or nothing about the animals.
"They seem to have just had this as a last minute idea for a 'stocking filler'.
"We are quite worried as charities like ours will be the ones left to sort out the mess in the New Year - being called out to catch a snake which has escaped or been abandoned or an exotic spider which a child has become bored with."
Mr Gibb stressed the importance of seeking advice before buying any animal and pointed out that even his eight-year-old son Johnathon, who has grown up around exotic creatures, is only allowed to handle them with adult supervision.
Chief Inspector Mark Mason, the PSNI wildlife expert, said licences were needed to keep owls but anyone could walk into a pet store and buy a snake or spider.
"It is essential that people purchase animals from a reputable dealer and are fully aware of the responsibility they are taking on," he said.
For advice contact Wildlife Rescue on 07759 879878.