On my recent trip to Seoul, we noticed the sudden proliferation of “pet” cafés. Even when we were strolling through the shopping district of Myeong-dong, we noticed cat mascots advertising the cafés.
Now, in Seoul, you can find not only cat and dog cafés, but ones with sheep, raccoons, and more exotic fare . . . such as meerkats. Well, that’s the one we really wanted to visit, so one drippy morning, we set out for the Hondae area.
In my imagination, the sheep café was a place where you sipped coffee and pet wooly lambs as they wandered around. As it turned out, the sheep were kept in an enclosure outside of the cafe. In other words, it was like a petting zoo. Better for the sheep, of course, and probably the customers, but there went my pastoral imaginings!
We knew the café didn’t open until noon, so arrived just about that time. However, the one thing we didn’t realize is that you can’t actually interact with any of the animals until about 1pm because the staff take the first or so to feed all the animals.
This wasn’t a complete loss, because as any pet owner knows, animals are most active when they know their tea is coming. We enjoyed watching the meerkats scramble around, campaigning for their breakfast, and then eating once their kibble was sprinkled into their pen.
There are many other animals at this particular café as well: cats, foxes, genets (a slender, sort of cat-like animal), a raccoon (for some reason, tailless), and a wallaby. Most of the animals were in pens or enclosures, though the wallaby was hopping around the entire time and we were allowed to hand-feed it.
Eventually, we were allowed to enter the meerkat enclosure. There were a lot of (understandably) rules for this. We had to empty our pockets of all items—food, coins, anything that might cause grief to the meerkats.
Then, it was just a matter of going inside the enclosure, sitting down and let the meerkats come introduce themselves!
Myself, Marcie, and our friend author Stacey Matson were the first ones allowed in for the day, along with two other visitors. The meerkats swarmed us! So much so, in fact, that Marcie only lasted a few minutes before asking to leave. The meerkats were scrambling up the backside of her dress and some were tugging at her diabetes pump, so she figured it better to get out.
Eventually, the meerkats settled down and even began to nap on some our laps. Stacey, in particular, had one meerkat go completely comatose on her lap!
As for me, I turned out to be a meerkat lookout point!
By the way, can you see the sweat dripping off my forehead? It’s not from nerves of dealing with meerkat’s—that’s just Seoul’s famous humidity!