Video: Animal Cafes Are Cool, But Does A Raccoon Cafe Go Too Far? : Parallels In NPR's Elise Tries series, correspondent Elise Hu tests out new experiences in East Asia. In this inaugural episode, she visits a South Korean animal cafe. Things don't go as smoothly as planned.
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Video: Animal Cafes Are Cool, But Does A Raccoon Cafe Go Too Far?

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Video: Animal Cafes Are Cool, But Does A Raccoon Cafe Go Too Far?

Video: Animal Cafes Are Cool, But Does A Raccoon Cafe Go Too Far?

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/519102966/531173506" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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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.

TERPSTRA: OK.

HU: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

TERPSTRA: (Laughter).

HU: OK. Do I get it off me?

(SOUNDBITE OF RACCOON GROWL)

TERPSTRA: Oh, no. Oh, no.

HU: (Unintelligible).

TERPSTRA: Watch it. Don't get scratched. Don't get scratched.

HU: (Unintelligible).

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...

TERPSTRA: (Laughter).

HU: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

...Seoul.

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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