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15 Jan, 2022 16:52

Wild animal cafés face government ban

South Korean cafés that feature small animals like meerkats or raccoons have been deemed unfit to keep them
Wild animal cafés face government ban

Wild animal cafés, where visitors can get up-close and personal with furry critters, will be outlawed in South Korea, the country’s environment ministry has announced, after it deemed the venues harmful for animals’ wellbeing.

The upcoming ban on wild animals in eateries was announced by South Korea’s Ministry of Environment on Friday. The venues are effectively a mix of an indoor eating setting and a petting zoo, where visitors can watch and touch a variety of small animals.

“There are 159 such cafés nationwide where raccoons, meerkats, prairie dogs, as well as various amphibians and reptiles, are on display,” a ministry official said, as quoted by local media.

Exhibiting wild animals in such indoor settings was deemed to be “undesirable from an ecological point of view” as well as damaging to the “welfare” of the critters. The animals kept in the cafés will eventually get transferred to “more adequate” facilities.

The proposed legislation, should it be passed by the country’s legislature, will grant the cafés a generous grace period of three to four years to implement the change. The animals kept in the venues will be transferred to the National Institute of Ecology, as well as to two other state-owned shelters, to be built by 2025. Before the facilities become operational, the animals are expected to be held in private shelters.

South Korea’s wild animal cafés, which have become trendy and quite popular with visitors over the past few years, have been repeatedly criticized by environmentalists, with the venues blasted as completely inappropriate to house the creatures.

The animals are commonly left without any shelter to hide from the customers pestering them. Hygienic conditions at the venues have also been criticized as inadequate, with visitors reporting heavy animal odors.