Owl bar takes booze off the menu

A pop-up cocktail bar featuring live owls has removed alcohol from its menu due to concerns over animal welfare.

Owl-Cafe-Soho-LondonAnnie the Owl, a pop-up bar set to open in Soho later this month, had promised guests the chance to sip a cocktail while admiring the star of the show, Annie the barn owl, along with seven of her feathered friends, accompanied by a professional falcon trainer.

More than 64,000 people have applied to attend the event, which will be held in an empty space over three floors, not in a traditional pub or bar, which organisers said is “ample space for the birds to exhibit normal behaviour under the careful watch and protection of their respective falconers.”

However the combination of live animals and booze sparked concern among animal rights campaigners, including the charity it was raising money for which has said it no longer wishes to be associated with the event. A petition against the event has gained more than 17,000 signatures, with organisers now confirming that alcohol will no longer be served.

In a statement posted on its website, organisers of the event said: “After some concerns from animal welfare groups regarding the provision of TWO alcoholic cocktails per person at Annie the Owl, the organisers have decided to no longer serve alcoholic drinks/cocktails during the event. The organisers believe that 64,000 people (and +125,000 tickets applied for) have registered for the event because they love owls and not because of the alcohol.”

Five owls named Annie, Darwin, Ruby, Cinders, Winston and Hootie, all handled by trained falconers, are set to attend the event which is based on Tokyo’s owl cafés, where visitors routinely sip a coffee surrounded by owls. The novelty bar will run from 19 March to 25, with tickets issued via a ballot, and will open only between the hours of 8pm to 2am in respect of the birds’ nocturnal nature.

All proceeds will go toward a charity that will remain unnamed “due to their limited resources to manage media and skeptics”, which organisers believe was the cause for the Barn Owl Trust to withdraw their support.

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