Activist group raises concern over wild animal cafes in Korea

An animal welfare group in Korea has raised concern over wild animal cafes in its report released on Monday (Nov 6).

The wild animal cafes place racoons, meerkats and other wild creatures in their facilities as a tool to attract customers.

According to the report by animal welfare group Aware, there are more than 35 such cafes in Korea where wild animals are offered as companions to the customers.

Racoon was the most common species on display, as it was found in 29 out of the 35 cafes. Other wildlife species include meerkat, wallaby, desert fox, and ferret.

A racoon is surrounded by customers trying to pet and hug them at a wild animal cafe in Seoul.Photo: Aware

Through on-site investigations in nine wild animal cafes in Seoul, Aware found that animals were stressed from all-day-long exposure to customers trying to pet and hug them, often displaying signs of lethargy and sickness.

Moreover, different species of wild animals were often kept in the same place with other domestic and wild animals, sometimes giving rise to hostile interactions among them.

Hygiene in these cafes was also poorly taken care of. Excrement from the animals was improperly handled, with potty pads left in open areas in the cafe, giving rise to the risk of infections.

Only one out of the nine cafes investigated, had a sink where customers could wash their hands before and after touching the animals.

Aware seeks to use the result of this investigation to inform authorities to come up with legal measures to block these animal cafes from placing wild animals in poor conditions.

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