Get up close and personal with alpacas, sheep, owls and more at these unusual establishments
Since the first cat cafe opened in Taiwan in 1998, ‘pet’ cafes have taken the world by storm, offering patrons a chance to cuddle and play with the animals, in addition to enjoying a drink or a meal. Many are drawn to the experience for the comfort and companionship it offers. While cat and dog cafes are the most popular, there are also places that feature exotic animals. Here are five unique pet cafes that animal lovers should not miss.
Oia Cafe Taipei, Taiwan
Possibly the first of its kind in the world, Oia Cafe has patrons dining in a rustic space, accompanied by cute, fluffy alpacas! These South American animals, which are relatives of the llama, are usually bred for their fleece, which is then fashioned into clothing, scarves, hats, gloves or textiles. Being domesticated, alpacas are generally friendly and some are kept as pets. There are two resident alpacas in the cafe, and patrons can touch, pet, take selfies with them, and even feed them carrots. Be careful of your personal belongings, as the alpacas are known to chew and bite on loose items and handbag straps. Just outside the cafe is a small farm with more alpacas.
Akiba Fukurou Cafe, Tokyo, Japan
Rarely seen in the wild, owls are elusive creatures – which is why tourists and locals alike flock to Akiba Fukurou Cafe in Akibahara, Tokyo. Contrary to its ‘cafe’ label, the place does not serve any food or beverage, but patrons don’t seem to mind as long as they get to interact with these adorable birds of prey. There are several star residents, including Shrimp, a pygmy owl who weighs just over six grammes, Charles Xavier, a black banded owl, as well as Kabuki, Sweet Potato and more. To keep everyone in a relaxed setting, the snug parlour has soothing lighting and a sound system that plays light, classical music. Bookings are required.
Thanks Nature Cafe, Seoul, South Korea
Cute stuffed toys, figurines and other sheep-themed items litter the space at Thanks Nature Cafe, located in the neighbourhood of Hongdae in Seoul. The star attraction, however, is the cafe’s resident pair of sheep, kept in a separate pen for hygiene purposes. Patrons can approach them and give their thick and fluffy woolen coats a pet, or feed them some hay. When you’re done, retreat to the cosy dining area, which serves coffee, desserts such as bingsu (shaved ice) and waffles.
Harry Hedgehog Cafe, Tokyo, Japan
Tucked in a quiet side street away from the hustle and bustle of Harajuku in Tokyo is Harry Hedgehog Cafe, where one can touch, pet and feed tiny hedgehogs. No food is served, although tea and coffee are available, self-service. Patrons are advised to handle the hedgehogs gently, as there is a certain way to scoop the animals up without spooking them. The place doubles as a pet store, so if you’ve formed a connection with your hedgehog, you can buy the necessary supplies and take your new little friend home. Reservations are recommended. They also have a branch in the Roppongi district.
Little Zoo Cafe, Bangkok, Thailand
Can’t decide on what animal you like best? Pet them all at Little Zoo Cafe in Siam Square, Bangkok. Aside from cats and dogs, which are allowed to roam in the dining area, they also have exotic animals like fennec foxes, raccoons, meerkats and chinchillas, kept in separate spaces. Don’t be disappointed if the animals are not brought out to the playroom, as the cafe observes a stringent policy when it comes to the wellbeing of their animals. Feeling hungry? Order some of their delicious fusion cuisine, such as Tom Yum spaghetti and refreshing coconut shakes.