London's Owl Café takes alcohol off menu as protests grow

Feathers are flying over the proposed opening of a pop-up Owl Café in London later this month. The organisers originally had planned to allow patrons the opportunity to sip cocktails in the bar in the company of six or seven owls.

Barn owl

Barn owl Image by Lucie Provencher / CC BY-SA 2.0

Over 64,000 people have applied to attend the novel night out at ‘Annie the Owl’ bar in the Soho area of the capital later this month. However the Drinks Business reports that the announcement drew a strong backlash from animal welfare groups resulting in the promoters of the café removing alcohol from its menu.

With nearly 17,000 online signatures calling for the café to be banned, a charity said it would shred up any donations offered from sales on the premises which is due to open on March 19.

The charity, Barn Owl Centre, made it clear the would not accept donations. The founder of the centre, Vincent Jones, explained that he received an offer of a £5,000 donation from a London business. The Evening Standard reports that he subsequently discovered the money would come from ticket sales to the bar. Mr Jones said he would shred the cheque, even if it was for a sum of one million pounds.

Despite the adverse publicity, organisers are adamant that the event will still go ahead. The Owl Café is to open in a large space, not a more traditional pub setting, to allow the owls to behave normally under the careful eye of trained falconers.

Organiser Seb Lyall, 31, stressed that every possible measure would be taken to safeguard the welfare of the birds.

The event, which is due to run for a week, will strictly ensure that all patrons are seated while on the premises. Mr Lyall added that the noise levels would be monitored and there would be no more than a dozen people around an owl at any time.

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