Introducing the Fantastic Beasts Foundation!
Tylor Starr, alongside Kathryn Henzler, co-founded the Fantastic Beasts Foundation. Having previously founded the first official Colorado quidditch team at the University of Northern Colorado and the Colorado Animal Rights Enthusiasts group in Greeley, he is now set to focus on the freshly renamed Fantastic Beasts Foundation and its work in the protection of animal rights. We got the chance to talk with him about the series, films, and future plans of the foundation.
How did the Fantastic Beasts Foundation get started and why the change in name from Fwooper Foundation?
Tylor: I had the idea for the Fwooper Foundation in 2014 after rereading Goblet of Fire – specifically the [“]House-Elf Liberation Front[“] chapter where Hermione is empowered to start SPEW. We decided to change the name to the Fantastic Beasts Foundation after two years in order to get all Harry Potter fans involved in helping animals – even those who may not have an encyclopedic knowledge of magical creatures and may not know what the Fwooper is.
Hermione faced a bit of an uphill battle in the beginning as she recruited people to join her cause. How has the reception been to your organization thus far? Do most people get the reference to the Potter series?
Tylor: The response we have been getting from the Harry Potter community has been overwhelmingly positive! Even when we were operating as the Fwooper Foundation, which is an obscure reference to a bird mentioned in the series once, people knew what our organization[‘s] goal was. We have even caught the eye of some influential people in the Potter fandom, including Evanna Lynch, Devon Murray, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, and more.
Have you been able to get them on board to spread awareness or even volunteer for the Fantastic Beasts Foundation? Are you hoping to catch the attention of J.K. Rowling?
Tylor: We have some very fun projects in the works with a few Harry Potter-related celebs that we aren’t able to announce just yet, but what we can say is that they are going to be so GOOD that fans will LOVE them. The ultimate goal would, of course, be to work with Jo in some way, maybe even just to chat with her about magical creature activism in the wizarding world.
What do you envision that conversation would look like? Are there any specific success stories you have had that you think would convince her to join you?
Tylor: The Harry Potter series is full of so many great animal rights messages, from SPEW to liberating a dragon [that] was being abused in the vaults of Gringotts. I imagine chatting with J.K. Rowling about animal rights would be such an invigorating conversation, and I know she would have some great insight.
One animal rights issue I know J.K. Rowling is sympathetic on is companion animal adoption since she adopted a retired greyhound a few years back. I’m confident that Jo would love our annual Adopt A Pygmy Puff campaign – which educates the Harry Potter community on how they can stop the companion animal overpopulation crisis. Our campaign has gathered more than 600 pledges from the Potter community to only adopt animals from shelters instead of buying them from pet stores or breeders.
You can help #cats, #dogs, and #PygmyPuffs just by choosing to adopt them from a shelter! Visit AdoptAPygmyPuff.com (Link also in bio) for more info! #HarryPotter #AnimalRights #AdoptDontShop #Hermione #HermioneGranger #Dogsofig #Rescuepup #catsofig #PygmyPuffsofig #Diagonalley #muggle #LordVoldemort #RonWeasley #Hagrid #Dumbledore #JKRowling #Fantasticbeasts
Beyond your campaigns, how does your organization make an impact at the most basic level? Give us a glimpse into what the standard day’s operations look like.
Tylor: The Fantastic Beasts Foundation will be ramping up our activism in a way that we were never able to with the Fwooper Foundation. In addition to launching three new main campaigns this year on top of our annual Adopt A Pygmy Puff campaign, we will also be focusing on actions for our Fantastic Beasts Foundation members. Throughout the year, we will be arming our members with easy, yet effective, actions that they will be able to unlock in exchange for free Fantastic Beasts Foundation items like mugs, buttons, tees, and more! Creating a network of passionate Harry Potter fans through our membership program is a huge way that we plan on winning victories for animals.
Are you worried that the unusually high degree of turmoil surrounding the early days of the current government administration will delay or overshadow the efforts of animal rights activists to push their agenda at the national level?
Tylor: Regardless of political affiliation, most everyone can agree that hurting animals is wrong. Even though Hermione knew that Lord Voldemort could be lurking around the corner, she was still able to advocate for the rights of [h]ouse-[e]lves, not because she thought their freedom was more important, but because she saw both issues as equal. This is the same approach the animal rights movement will be taking these next four years – not greater than, not lesser than, but equal.
True, but would you agree that it’s always advantageous to have individuals in the public arena at the state and national levels championing your cause? Isn’t your job going to be that much harder if you wind up combating regulations and policies that do an even worse job of protecting certain species?
Tylor: Absolutely. Luckily, the animal rights movement is full of organizations that have a much larger budget than we do who are doing fantastic lobbying work to ensure that someone is speaking up for the animals on a national front. The Fantastic Beasts Foundation will be focusing our efforts a little closer to home by growing a grassroots movement of Harry Potter fans to change public opinion about the magical creatures we share our world with.
Is it a prerequisite that all members of your organization be well in tune with the Potter-verse? Did the release of the Fantastic Beasts film bring a surge of interest in your work?
Tylor: The Fantastic Beasts Foundation was created by Harry Potter fans for Harry Potter fans. Whether fans have only seen the movies or they have all of Quidditch Through the Ages memorized, our campaigns and actions will appeal to everyone. We knew that the Fantastic Beasts movie would give a bump in interest, but we had no idea it would skyrocket us to the level that we are at now. We are beyond excited to save some animals and have a magical time while doing it.
If you thought about all the creatures from the novels and films, which do you imagine would be the most endangered were it alive and operating in our society today?
Tylor: It is unfortunate to think of any of the beloved creatures from the wizarding world universe being endangered, but I think the two beasts that would most be endangered would be the Erumpent and Demiguise. Erumpents are like rhinos, and we are down to only a few remaining rhinos in the world, and the Demiguise would surely be hunted for their pelts of invisibility just like other primates […] hunted for their pelts. Luckily, the Fantastic Beasts Foundation will be launching campaigns based around both of these beasts this year!
What is the best way for interested readers to get involved with your organization? For those who cannot, what are some simple steps they can take to help the cause worldwide?
Tylor: MuggleNet readers who live in the US can sign up to become a Fantastic Beasts Foundation member, and readers outside of the US can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, [or] Instagram and sign up for our email alerts. Harry Potter fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest ways to help animals by checking out the [“]News[“] section of the Fantastic Beasts Foundation website.
Is there anything else you would like the readers to know?
Tylor: We would just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported our group and everyone who wants to make this world a better place for magical creatures!