RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The cafe industry can be cutthroat at times. You got to have the thing - right? - a gimmick to distinguish yourself, maybe an avocado latte or a cafe where you can nap. NPR's Elise Hu checked out a cafe in South Korea where you can sip a cup of coffee and cuddle a creature.
ELISE HU, BYLINE: So the way an animal cafe works in general is that you pay for entrance. And with entrance, you get a drink.
We started out in a South Korea cat cafe. Some folks brought laptops. But it's clear that for most customers, it's all about time with the animals.
MOLLY CARMER: You get to pet cats.
HU: That's Molly Carmer, who was visiting from Colorado.
CARMER: If we can relax at home with each other or if we can relax here with a bunch of cats, then (laughter) it's an easy choice.
HU: Cat cafes have become a thing now across the globe. But it's here in East Asia where you can go to a sheep cafe, an owl cafe or a raccoon cafe, which my friend Patrick Terpstra I found on one of Seoul's side streets.
So I'm most concerned about, please say no when raccoon's biting on you. Do raccoons know no means no?
Interpreter Haeryun Kang reads a warning sign in Korean.
HAERYUN KANG: When it's dangerous is when they get into, like, attack mode and start growling.
PATRICK TERPSTRA: OK. That sounds terrifying.
HU: We tried to get up close and personal anyway. Immediately, a raccoon went for my iced tea and then me.
HU: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
HU: OK. Do I get it off me?
(SOUNDBITE OF RACCOON GROWL)
TERPSTRA: Oh, no. Oh, no.
TERPSTRA: Watch it. Don't get scratched. Don't get scratched.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Laughter).
HU: Oh, God. What the hell?
That's what the raccoon snatched our audio recorder, which pretty much sums up how things went down.
If you want a more tame animal cafe experience, stick with a cat cafe or a dog cafe.
TERPSTRA: (Laughter) I don't think a raccoon cafe is a good idea at all.
HU: It was worth a shot. Elise Hu, NPR News...
HU: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
TERPSTRA: All right, let's get out of here.
(SOUNDBITE OF OK IKUMI'S "SLEEP 2")
MARTIN: Oh, man. There's video of that encounter on our Facebook page and at npr.org/elisetries.
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