I saved the most off-the-wall animal cafe for what may be my last, for nestled in Hongdae is the Meerkat Friends Cafe. It’s home to meerkats, of course, but surprisingly also has a kangaroo (or wallaby?), an arctic fox, and some other cat-like animals that I couldn’t identify.
The first thing to note is that it’s not really a cafe, but they sell some drinks with the prices increased to accommodate the entrance fee. You can get bottled water or some other nicer bottled drinks – I got a pomegranate basil seed juice, which was pretty delicious.
Of course, the draw is absolutely not the drinks. You’re here for the animals, so we basically abandoned our juices immediately and ran over to pet the sweet little kangaroo hanging around near our table. This guy (or girl) is cuddly, soft, and extremely patient with visitors, and became my favorite friend in the whole cafe.
We next walked over to the arctic fox, while being careful not to alarm it because a worker warned us it is extremely sensitive to touch. I’m not sure there’s a thematic link between the animals they house here besides “things that shouldn’t be in Korea, let alone in a cafe,” but I’m hoping they are well taken care of judging by the workers’ knowledge and care. I have heard some things about the ethics of animal cafes, particularly those with animals that are not domestic, and to be honest I don’t know how well meerkats can thrive in a playpen.
The meerkat section of the cafe is more regulated; you may enter the pen for ten minutes, being careful to cover your feet with a blanket so they don’t eat your socks off. The meerkats were cute but the short time frame was definitely more than enough – it was a little creepy to be pawed at by the frantic little guys. They crawl over your shoulders, try to duck under your blanket, and move at the speed of light.
The meerkat cafe is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience, so I’m glad I checked it out. Puppy cafes will always be number one in my heart, but something this unique feels like something that would only be created here in Seoul. Anyway, since I didn’t get to travel to Africa or Australia, I at least saw a little bit of their wildlife.