Animal Cafes in Seoul: A Pet Paradise
Having a meal or a hot beverage with a furry companion at our side has become easier with the openings of animal cafes. However, pet cafes have not always been around until the first animal cafe opened in Taipei, Taiwan in 1998.
1998 seems far back, but Taiwan was the first country to open its door to felines and patrons. With the limitations and restrictions of having house pets in apartments, the idea of creating a shared space where people can come and hang out with animals blossomed. Introducing the wave of animal cafes to come was the first cat cafe, Cat Flower Garden, in Taipei!
The Cat Flower Garden became an attraction not only in Taipei but around the world. The first wave of animal cafes began to take over in Japan which slowly spread to other Asain countries, Europe, and eventually the States. Opening a new marketing niche, we can see the spread of cat cafes flourish along with new theme animal cafes centered around dogs, sheep, and now, undomesticated animals.
Taking the lead in animal cafes is South Korea!
Animal Cafes in Seoul
Although South Korea is known for Kpop, Koreans have their own cafe culture. Now, a cafe here means more than having a shop specializing in coffee but a space to hang out. Seoul is one of the cities to have the most theme cafes tailored to a relaxing and calming environment. Especially for youths, cafes grant them access to privacy, studying, and spending time with friends.
With a big city and space restrictions in homes, cafes provide the locations for Koreans to enjoy activities individually or in groups. In Seoul, we can expect to see board game cafes, book cafes, flower cafes, and animal cafes. And, the pet cafes in Seoul take it the next step further by allowing patrons to enjoy time with unexpected animals.
Depending on the furry companion we want, here are some of the animal cafes we can expect and visit in Seoul.
For any dog lover, it is a pet paradise to socialize with them in a dog cafe. Depending on the dog cafe, some owners have either small dogs, big dogs, or a mixture of both. Each cafe is different and runs differently from the rest so we need to keep that in mind. Some owners keep individual rooms for the dogs where patrons can join after paying an admission fee or a beverage. Other cafes allow the dogs to roam freely seeking attention from anyone who is enjoying a beverage.
Then, there are the dog cafes where owners allow patrons to bring their own dogs to socialize with theirs. Most dog cafes house dogs that are their owners who get to come to work with them. Some of the dog cafes you can find in Seoul are
- Bau House located in Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
- The Wal’z and Joypia Cafe is located in Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
- Dog Cafe located in Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
But we can’t forget the animals who started the wave of pet cafes.
Taiwan opened the doors for us to enjoy cats outside of our homes. Cat cafes became the first pet cafes to start. Even though cats can be self-isolating creatures, they are great companions to people-watch. Or have small spurs of playfulness and petting time the cats allow.
Cat cafes are different from dog cafes in the sense that most cafe owners allow their cats to roam the place freely. There is no designated place for patrons to enter to be with cats, instead they share the place. Of course, depending which cafe we enter, we might need to pay an admission fee or a beverage to get access to the cats for a limited time. Here are three cat cafe in Seoul,
- Godabang Cat Cafe located in Jung-gu, Seoul.
- Table A Cat located in Wausan-ro, Mapu-gu, Seoul.
- Gio Cat Cafe located in Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
But what if we are allergic to cats or dogs, or want to see other animals? Seoul is home to cafes with animals outside the norms of a house pet. We can have the country feel without the countryside visit since we have access to sheep in the city.
Farm animals are interesting to house and care for but there can be some limitations to what the city of Seoul can allow. Sheep are both small enough and easier to care for than most farm animals. That’s why they are the next best animal to spend an evening with at a pet cafe.
Now, Seoul isn’t home to many sheep cafes. However, they do have the longest standing sheep cafe in Seoul, Thanks Nature Cafe. Located in Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Thanks Nature Cafe is not only home to sheep but dogs. What makes this cafe unique from the rest is, the mixture of dogs and sheep in an open space. That’s right, there is no designated place for the animals and patrons are allowed to eat some delicious desserts. It is an openly shared space for patrons and animals to enjoy a meal and companionship.
Even though sheep are farm animals, they are still domesticated as dogs and cats. But as we mentioned before, Seoul is home to some wild animal cafes where we can drink with less conventional animals.
Racoon cafes are one of the first animal cafes outside the domesticated pet cafes beginning to flourish in Seoul. Raccoons’ behavior is fascinating to watch and learn how they interact with one another and people. However, they can be unpredictable which is why raccoon cafes have certain restrictions and regulations in place.
We can expect to see raccoon cafes with a designated area where there is a limited time to interact with them. Most cafes will have age restrictions in who is allowed to interact with raccoons for the safety of the animal and the patron. Children are less permitted to enter a raccoon cafe than a dog or cat cafe. Raccoon cafes have regulations patrons must follow to not alert or scare them to prevent accidents. Some racoon cafes in Seoul we can visit are:
- Blind Alley,a rare raccoon cafe where you can share a space, is in Yongsan-gu, Seoul.
- Racoon Cafe Cuckoo located in Jongno-gu, Seoul.
Just like there are raccoon cafes, you can expect to mind more wild animals in Seoul. Meerkats have been the next big animal cafe in South Korea.
Before we start thinking we will find only meerkats in meerkat cafes, think again. Meerkat cafes like raccoon cafes are home to dogs and often other animals. Meerkats is one the latest trends of animal cafes where we can see a meerkat up close. Due to the fact that meerkat’s are undomesticated, there are regulations and restrictions we can expect.
Age restriction is one the regulations where children are not permitted to enter Meerkat cafes to prevent accidents. All belongings will be asked to be placed in lockers and the removal of our shoes. The regulations of consumption is different from a dog or sheep cafe. We can expect only to purchase closed beverages since open beverages is a health concern.
One of Seoul’s meerkat cafes known is Meerkat Friends located in Mapo-gu, Seoul. In this particular animal cafe, we can expect to encounter many wild animals from an arctic fox to a snow bengal cat. With animal cafes opening, there has been some controversy on the pet welfare that pet cafes house.
Controversy With Animal Cafes
Animal cafes can be a double edge sword. A pet paradise for any person who loves animals but, also, a concern for any animal advocate over the animal’s welfare. Pet cafes are still unmarked territory as cafe owners bring in new, undomesticated animals to a space they can share with patrons.
How these animals are treated is the main concern activists have. Sure for any one of us, we enjoy socializing with animals but it is different for animals. Most animals may not like the constant interaction they are exposed to nor fond of strangers constantly reaching for them. Not only is the concern with how patrons treat the animals but how staff treat them. Are they receiving the proper care, nutrients, health care they need?
Whether it is ethical to use these creatures as attractions to a business, is another question owners are being asked. Exposing animals as petting zoos and to clusters of people at a time especially when it is not natural to wild animals like raccoons, meerkats, and arctic foxes is the biggest controversy.
Helpful Tips When Visiting a Pet Cafe
What can we do as patrons of these animal cafes, if we decide to visit? BE MINDFUL. We have to consider these are animals with their own quirks, personalities, and natural behaviors. Even dogs and cats have their particularities we have to consider. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
- BE MINDFUL
- BE RESPECTFUL
- Don’t force an animal to something we want.
- Don’t disrupt animals in their sleep.
- Don’t feed them unless it is with their own food.
- Before petting let them know us and our scent.
- Consider what establishments we visit
Afterall, animals have their likes and dislikes. We should be respectful of their space and behavioral nature. We should enjoy sharing an environment together rather than getting the picture. Animal cafes are great places to relax and find companionships in animals who can alleviate our stress or emotional burden we might carry. Animal cafes can even be a place to have the feeling of owning a pet cat, dog, or even a sheep.
With many animal cafes home to Seoul, which animal cafe are you mostly likely to visit when you’re in the city? Tell us in the comments.