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Pet cafes are the new zoos

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The trend of sipping your morning brew next to an animal is the next “zoo,” and some activists are arbitrarily ranking which animals are deserving of it and which aren’t.

The Telegraph reports that activists, through Animal Rights Centre, have launched a petition to close owl cafes that are popping up in Japan. Their reasoning speaks to owls needing to stretch out their wings, fly, and not be used by humans for entertainment.

They’re hoping the Ministry of the Environment and local authorities are going to hop on board and condemn the cafe owners unless they comply with animal welfare legislation. Yeah, they simultaneously want these owl cafes closed and think it’s important to change the way animal exploiters treat their property. It’s confusing, and ignores a menagerie of other animals facing the same scenarios.

Pet cafes around the world are currently populated by cats, rabbits, parrots, goldfish, reptiles, goats, and even penguins: all of these animals undeserving of their use. It’s not hard to see the similarities between these spaces and zoos, even without the inclusion of cages. Guests touching, taking photos with, and cooing over the cuteness of these animals might externally look more “humane” than the enclosures others tap on, but make no mistake that the intention is the same. These animals, wild or domesticated, are being used to make money for cafe owners, it’s a gimmick. A ticket to the zoo and purchasing coffee in these shops both support human use of animals for entertainment and drive the expansion of this inconsiderate trend.

I think the misconception that they’re all hopping around on padded seats and nibbling crumbs, or that all cafes offer adoption programs (they don’t), sets up the narrative that these cafes are acceptable places for animal lovers. But as long as someone is profiting off of their ownership and veritable pimping out, it’s not in the interest of the animal. They’re glorified petting zoos.

So while this group sticks to the single issue of owls populating these cafes, the eradication of all animal entertainment should be the goal, with veganism as the first step.

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