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Owl Café in Japan a Target of Animal Activists -- Here's Why

Mar 09, 2017 08:00 PM EST
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People Appreciate Exotic Birds At Bird Cafe In Tokyo
Owl cafes are under fire after animal activists cry foul. They say keeping owls awake during the day in a confined and noisy environment are forms of abuse.
(Photo : Keith Tsuji/Getty Images)

Japan offers a variety of unique cafes to entertain tourists and locals. However, one popular and peculiar diner, an owl café, is under fire after animal activists cry foul.

The café, called "Owl Village," is just one of the unique animal cafes that started surfacing in Japan. Animal activists say that using owls and other animals as attractions is considered a form of abuse.

"When people think about animal abuse, they think about kicking or hitting." Chihiro Okada, representative director of Animal Rights Center, said in an interview with Reuters. "But it isn't limited to that. Confining an animal to a small space is certainly a form of abuse."

Furthermore, the activists mention that depriving owls of adequate sleep during the day is also another form or abuse. The animals were kept awake during the day in a rather bright and noisy environment; different from the conducive surrounding they're supposed to be in.

Restaurant owners, however, reiterated that the owls were being taken cared of. Despite the abusive claims, some cafes still insist that they owls are not being maltreated.

"Some owl cafes are short staffed and customers are allowed to freely interact with the birds. But here, they have to be accompanied by a staff member who explains how to touch the animal," Aya Matsuda, manager of Owl Café, said in a statement.

Owls are considered good luck in Japan, according to a report. However, the birds themselves seem not too fortunate if they're being patronized in a café since they are not getting enough sleep during the day. Activists say that the nocturnal birds should not be kept awake during daytime.

Other abusive conditions were cited by animal activists including the fact that owls were forced to perch in an uncomfortable stance for the whole day not being able to move and feed freely.

Extreme brightness and noisy environments drastically affect owls. As a result, some of the owls suffer from neurotic behaviors such as feather pulling and pacing.

Although the law is lenient when it comes to owl cafés, experts say that keeping them in restaurants shouldn't be a problem if the animals are properly cared for. Despite that, there were reported deaths of owls used in cafés since the outpouring of these establishments.

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