Over in South East Asia, there has been a recent upsurge in the number of people looking to keep wild animals as pets.
And now the latest “otter craze” has resulted in a number of interactive otter cafes opening up in Japan, fueled by social influencers.
Thanks to an undercover investigation by World Animal Protection it has came to light that there has been an increase in the illegal hunting and trafficking of otters, as well as attempts to breed them across Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand, in order to satisfy a growing demand for the animal.
The following concerns have been raised:
– Otters in the wild are having their cubs snatched from them. Naturally the parents are fiercely protective of them so they end up being shot or electrocuted so that the poachers can take the cubs.
– Out of the four species of otter found in South East Asia, three of them are now at risk of extinction in the wild, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
– A highly organized network of farmers, hunters, dealers and collecters are sourcing cubs in the wild and exporting them through their networks.
– It has been alleged that law enforcement and government officials have been facilitating the trade.
There are over a dozen otter cafes on Japan, and it has been found that the animals safety and welfare in these cafes is heavily compromised, all just to satisfy the need to entertain customers.
The otters can be heard shrieking and whimpering in a state of distress when customers try to interact with them.
Some otters are kept in solitary conditions in small cages with no natural light and no access to water. They show signs of distress such as biting their claws or exhibiting self harming behaviour.
With otters now being classified as at risk of extinction in the wild, attention is needed urgently to address these issues in countries that promote the use of otters for mindless entertainment.
The video below shows how otters are being used in Japan’s cafes: