There's a raccoon cafe in South Korea that Winter Olympians are loving

23rd Feb 18 | Lifestyle

But is it really the best environment for these animals?

Four cute baby raccoons on a deck railing

Winter Olympic athletes have spent the last two weeks competing in the PyeongChang Games, and now that the events are drawing to a close, they’re finally able to enjoy some well-earned downtime.

American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy has been soaking up the sights and sounds of Seoul, and has just visited a raccoon cafe with his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas.

That’s right: It’s a cafe where you can literally go play with everyone’s favourite trash pandas. Not only that, but there are some highly relatable signs about raccoons there…

The cafe is called Blind Alley, and is home to three raccoons (called Shot, Crema and Kong), as well as a corgi and a capybara (a distant relative of the guinea pig). According to a video from INSIDER Travel, the owner, Han Song Hee, adopted the raccoons from a breeder and a fur importer.

Visitors can play with the raccoons, take pictures with them and feed them their favourite snacks – dried squid and cookies (which sounds like a pretty strange combo if you ask us).

This combination of cute animals and a charismatic sportsman is almost too much for people to handle, and now it seems everyone’s desperate to go to Blind Alley.

However, as cute as cafes like these look, it’s worth noting they’re perhaps not the best environments for animals. Website The Dodo spoke to a wildlife biologist at the Animal Welfare Institute about the matter.

D.J. Schubert said: “There’s a very real possibility that the raccoons could scratch or bite or otherwise harm someone, either because of their playfulness, or because humans are either intentionally or unintentionally tormenting them or harassing them. If someone was harmed, what would happen to the raccoons?”

While many of the social media posts about the cafe are tourists playing with the raccoons and having a great time, there are also some pretty damning reviews about how the place is run.

Such a sad and heart breaking place. People are seriously chasing the poor raccoons with selfie sticks and petting them…

Posted by Nor Toma on Monday, August 28, 2017

Animal cafes have become all the rage, because who wouldn’t like to cuddle a cute pet while sipping their morning coffee? But while it might be good for your Instagram account, it’s important to consider whether the environment is right for these animals.

© Press Association 2018