Japan’s popular owl cafes under scrutiny

Cat cafes, puppy cafes, and even rabbit cafes, have been popping up all over the world as the demand for animal cafes increases, particularly in Japan. But Owl Village, a Japanese owl cafe, leaves some animal rights activists concerned.  

Some say the brightly lit cafes and constant flow of people disrupt the owl’s natural nocturnal sleep cycles, and that tying their feet to perches to keep them from flying — as many cafes do — can potentially be counted as animal abuse.

“When they think of animal abuse, people think of kicking or hitting animals, but it isn’t limited to that,” Chihiro Okada from Tokyo’s Animal Rights Center told Reuters. “Confining an animal to a small space is certainly a form of abuse. Showing them off like products is also a stressful situation. They can’t move and drink freely.” 

“We were particularly shocked to learn that seven owls died in one year at an owl cafe,” Okada added.

Aya Matsuda, who manages the frequently fully booked Owl Village, said they try to keep the birds free of stress with frequent breaks and by ensuring that staff is there to help guide guest-owl interactions.

“In our cafe, staff are able to enter the owl room with customers and explain how to play with them, and when the owls look tired, they can rest,” she said.

But if the cafe remembers to put the birds first, there should be no problems, said veterinarian Nobumoto Izawa. “Most importantly, we need to make sure the birds are happy and not stressed.”

Source – TheJakartaPost

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