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Japan’s ‘otter cafés’, where wild animals are captured and kept in small cages

Otters spend the majority of their time in the water, but in otter cafes, they don't have access to any at all. This is clearly affecting their mental and physical well-being.

AMANDA KRAUSE: ‘The business of animal cafés in Japan is booming. Currently, tourists and locals can pet and spend time with species ranging from cats to owls for a small fee. Similarly, a search for the hashtag “Animalcafé” on Instagram brings more than 17,000 results, many of which feature a location tag in Japan… According to Aaron Gekoski, a British environmentalist and photojournalist, on a recent trip to Japan found evidence that many otters are ripped from their families in the wild, kept in small cages, and forced to live in unsuitable environments. Gekoski investigated the cafés with the help of World Animal Protection, an international nonprofit organization, and compiled their findings in a new documentary

According to the Australia Zoo, Asian small-clawed otters typically eat “fish, crustaceans, shellfish, small land prey, and eggs” in the wild. They are also said to spend the majority of their days hunting, and can eat “one third of their body weight in food each day.” In otter cafés, however, the animals “have no choice but to consume a totally unsuitable diet,” Gekoski said… “Otters spend the majority of their time in the water, but here, most don’t have access to any at all,” “It was clearly affecting their mental and physical well-being,” he continued. In one instance, Gekoski came across an otter who had “gnawed off” most of its tail…

Cassandra Koenen, the Global Head of Campaign for World Animal Protection, said in the documentary that there’s a direct link between the amount of otter cafés in Japan, and the number of otter-related photos on Instagram. “The recent increase in the number of otter cafés that are popping up around Japan, as well as the number of otters that are showing up on Instagram and becoming Instagram-famous, is really driving the pet trade, and the desirability for wanting an otter as a pet,” Koenen said… World Animal Protection believes the otter trade in Japan has ties to Yakuza, an organized crime network in Japan’. SOURCE…


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