Two-part play in London causes furore on social media after news leaked that real owls were used during performances

They were supposed to be a secret, but when word leaked that the new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London was using real owls during performances, fans of the saga went wild on social media.

Alas, the owls have officially flown the coop before the blockbuster West End production officially opened.

Producers of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child said that they made a decision this week that live owls will no longer be used in the drama.

The two-part play “is currently in its preview stage, with the process designed to allow the creative team time to rehearse changes or explore specific scenes further before the play’s official opening,” they said in a statement that was issued on Thursday.

“As part of this process, earlier this week the decision was made not to feature live owls in any aspect of the production moving forward.”

The announcement comes after unverified statements on social media said the owls were not behaving during some performances, with some saying that the birds were failing to hit their marks and getting lost in the theatre.

The British division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals expressed satisfaction with the decision.

“This is a huge relief for all Harry Potter fans who care about animals,” the group said on its website. “Owls are shy, sensitive and utterly unsuited to being put on display in a hot, noisy theatre, night after night.”

The play’s producers said in their statement that the owls associated with the production were “expertly cared for by a team of certified trainers and an on-site specialist veterinary surgeon.”

Owls have played an important part in the Harry Potter books. Hedwig, a snowy owl, was Harry’s pet and loyal companion.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is set to officially open next month at the Palace Theatre in London.

The play is a two-part saga that is designed to be seen in two separate seatings. Even in previews, the production has been one of the hottest tickets on the West End.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tells the story of an adult Harry Potter who is working in the Ministry of Magic and is a husband and father of three school-age children.

The play also focuses on his son Albus, who “must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted,” according to the Pottermore website.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter novels, didn’t write the play, but she has stated that the drama is an official sequel to the literary saga.

Playwright Jack Thorne penned the new play, which is based on an original story by Rowling, Thorne and John Tiffany.

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