The Ban on Experimental Breeding was the most important law in Harry Potter


Why the 1965 “Ban on Experimental Breeding” despite being little known is one of the most important laws in Harry Potter that ultimately failed

Every dark wizard worth their salt, in the world of Harry Potter, has a deadly pet. Herpo the Foul, Salazar Slytherin, and even Lord Voldemort himself are well known for breeding very aggressive creatures in the forms of serpents. Indeed, the creation of dangerous magical species and sub-species was one-way dark wizards could build their own army.

The Chamber of Secrets, perhaps, offers us a glimpse into this world. When Hagrid is falsely accused of unleashing the “monster” of Slytherin upon Hogwarts, it is only through the death of a student that prompts an investigation to begin. Until then, the very fact that there are one, or possibly several, dangerous creatures are on Hogwarts grounds doesn’t seem to be a big problem for the staff.

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This was fundamentally the environment that Tom Riddle, but also other infamous dark wizards, such as Grindelwald, operated in. This was a period where wizards were given free rein to experiment, for good and for worse. It was also a time where Muggles were more likely to encounter creatures that had been magically bred.

As Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them attests, incidents of muggles encountering magical creatures are not unknown, in “1932” a “rogue Welsh Green dragon swooped down upon a crowded beach of sunbathing muggles”. Yet, although the incident was a result of Wizard mishaps, it was Muggles who suffered and whose memories were altered as a result.

The same recklessness towards Muggles was shown in the approaches of experimental breeding. There was no regard for the creatures themselves but instead, they were regarded as tools. For example, the Acromantula was specifically created as Fantastic Beasts notes to “guard wizard dwellings and treasure”.

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Yet, the wizarding world was gradually waking up to how dangerous unrestricted breeding could be. As the presence of both Acromantula’s and Basilisks showed, wizards could breed these creatures which could then far outlive the owner and cause havoc for centuries. Only the deceased original wizard or their descendants, in the case of Salazar Slytherin, might know how to control the creature.

The 1965 “Ban on Experimental Breeding” legislation to combat this was written by none other than Newt Scamander himself. It would involve restricting breeding practices which might introduce “new and untameable monsters”. This meant that whereas breeding in the past might have been winked at, now it was officially penalized.

The problem with this legislation is while it might have impacted law abiding wizards, it was not going to stop dark wizards, such as Voldemort, who were intent on creating new weapons. If one had attempted to confiscate the Horcrux Nagini from Voldemort, this would not have gone down well! Voldemort was a product of the pre-1965 environment where wizards had been free to experiment and even if he had not been “seriously evil” as the Weasley twins might say, old ways die hard.

Yet, even those wizards who were good at heart, such as Hagrid, might fall foul of the new laws on breeding. As the annotations in the Fantastic Beasts book points out with regard to the 1965 law “no-one’s told Hagrid”.  Many of the pets Hagrid keeps are highly restricted and would be subject to the “severe penalties” of the legislation, especially given that “eggs” of Dragons would definitely be amongst these.

The 1965 Act might have had its heart in the right place and certainly did make some real changes although these might have been just as much down to the wizard community placing more emphasis on protecting muggles than had been in the past.

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However, ultimately wizards and particularly dark wizards who really wanted to continue dangerous experimentation could just go underground. Finally, it seems was taken less seriously in practice than in theory, otherwise, Hagrid would have been in Azkaban for life!