How do so many endangered creatures end up in Japan’s animal cafes? -- Mar 18
Critically endangered species and ones banned from international trade are among the hundreds of types birds, reptiles and mammals that researchers identified at 142 animal cafes.

In Japan, it’s possible to enjoy a coffee while an owl perches on your head, or to sit at a bar where live penguins stare out at you from behind a plexiglass wall. The country’s exotic animal cafes are popular with locals as well as visitors seeking novelty, cuteness and selfies. Customers can even buy animals at some of the cafes and bring them home.

But visitors of these venues may not realize that many of these cafes put wildlife conservation, their own and public health, and animal welfare at risk.

In an exhaustive survey of Japan’s animal cafes published earlier this year in the journal Conservation Science and Practice, researchers found 3,793 individual animals belonging to 419 different species, 52 of which are threatened with extinction. Nine of the exotic species they found, including endangered slow lorises and critically endangered radiated tortoises, are strictly banned from international trade.

“Some species we saw are of very questionable origins,” said Marie Sigaud, now a veterinarian and wildlife biologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, who conducted the study as a postdoctoral researcher at Kyoto University. Many of the animals are “most likely caught in the wild, and this has implications for their long-term survival.” ...continue reading

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