Raccoon Cafes Are a Thing in South Korea

Posted by Amber King
Gus Kentworthy at raccoon cafe
Facebook/Gus Kentoworthy

You've heard of cat cafes, but this is something completely new--and a bit bizarre. 

When they weren't winning medals and rescuing dogs from dog meat farms, a few U.S. Olympic athletes spent their time in South Korea doing something a little different. The city of Seoul is a cultural experience with a lot to offer, but the local raccoon cafe called Blind Alley is a particular oddity.

The fact that it's unexpected is what attracts Korean locals and tourists alike.

That time at the raccoon cafe #raccooncafe #seoul

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Dog and cat cafes and coffee shops are a common sight in the U.S., but South Korea has taken this concept to another level. The raccoon cafe is a place in the city where people go to hang out with these adorably masked creatures. The animals--including a few dogs and a capybara--are kept in a closed-off room complete with tables, chairs, and an indoor jungle gym. Visitors to the cafe can purchase food and drinks and then take off their shoes and venture into the raccoon room. The owner, Han Song Hee, rescued the raccoons from a fur importer.

Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy called his unique experience to the cafe the highlight of his trip to PyeongChang, South Korea. That's right, the raccoons even beat out competing in the Winter Olympics. Kenworthy shared pictures of him and his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas on social media getting cuddly with the seemingly friendly forest animals.

While pictures are cute and the idea of spending time with cute raccoons sounds appealing, not everyone is on board with the concept of a raccoon cafe. Unlike cats and dogs, raccoons aren't domesticated animals. They live in the wild and aren't native to Asia. While some people see happy raccoons enjoying life and meeting new friends, others see a form of cruelty keeping the poor raccoons in an environment that doesn't match their specific needs.

There are signs posted around the cafe with basic rules and warning visitors that raccoons can bite so they shouldn't be fed outside food. They're also encouraged to respect the animals' personal space, but regulating that rule when people visit for the sole purpose of getting a selfie with a wild animal isn't always possible.

What do you think about South Korea's raccoon cafe? Let us know in the comments.

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Raccoon Cafes Are a Thing in South Korea