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Home   Gravesend   News   Article

Bird lover of Harden Road, Northfleet hopes owl idea will take flight

17 May 2014
by Messenger Reporter

Mollie King has been keeping owlets in her Northfleet home, but wants to set up a business to teach people about them.

The 21-year-old has grown up around the birds of prey.

Mollie King, of Harden Road, Northfleet, with Percy.

Mollie King, of Harden Road, Northfleet, with Percy.

Her father, Nigel King, has been an established ornithologist for more than 35 years.

She said: “I’ve had birds walking in and out of the kitchen since I was born.”

Mr King worked for London Zoo as an animal trainer before setting up the Imperial Bird of Prey Academy in Billericay, Essex.

It provides an educational and fun experience for children, and Mollie wants to create a sister branch of the business in Kent.

A message she is keen to spread is that owls should not be kept as pets.

Percy, a four week-old Tawny Owl.

Percy, a four week-old Tawny Owl.

Harry Potter and the Twilight series of books and films contributed to a rise in popularity for pet owls, but Mollie believes it is vital that they are regarded as wild animals.

Mollie, of Harden Road, said she and her father regularly received birds that had not been cared for properly.

A barn owl called Magic, which is now used as a ring bearer at weddings, was brought into the academy after being severely neglected.

The bird was bought as a gift for a nine-year-old boy’s birthday, and kept in a parrot cage for three years.

Percy, a four week-old Tawny Owl.

Percy, a four week-old Tawny Owl.

The family quickly learned that owls are very difficult to maintain, with a diet of mice and moles, and can be extremely dangerous.

Mollie intends to move her owlets from her home to her academy, and hopes to have it up and running in the next year – taking birds into schools and holding experience days for the community.

But she is still looking for somewhere to base the business venture.

She added: “I have been offered potential spots, but security is essential.

“I care about my birds, so I’m not going to rush into anything; I need to make sure they will be safe.”

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