Linda Poon is a staff writer at CityLab covering science and urban technology, including smart cities and climate change. She previously covered global health and development for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog.
It takes a lot of work—and a good amount of space—to own a rabbit in one of the world’s densest cities, but this pseudo-petting-zoo fills the void.
To indulge in the latest critter craze over a cup of coffee, skip the cat cafes and head down the rabbit hole to Hong Kong’s first-ever bunny cafe. Taking a cue from Tokyo, which hosts a menagerie of critter cafes—from owls to rabbits to snakes—29-year-old Teddy Chui opened Rabbitland Cafe this spring in the popular shopping district of Causeway Bay.
The shop, which serves lunch options of sandwiches and fries, houses 12 rabbits, many of which had been abandoned by their owners. Customers who reserve spots in advance can pet and feed the furry companions in their open cages, but there are strict rules against picking them up or pulling on their ears.
Rabbitland has so far proven to be a hit with diverse patrons, including parents visiting with their young children and groups of Hong Kong Millennials. In one the world’s densest cities, apartments are barely big enough to fit an entire family, let alone extra furry companions. Plus, with names like Sesame, Mung Bean, and Cotton Candy, who can resist?
As cute as they are, though, Chui told Agence France Presse (AFP) that the animals are also very high maintenance. The Hong Kong Rabbit Society, an animal welfare organization, says rabbits are the third most neglected animals in Hong Kong, with an estimated 200 rabbits abandoned each year. For as little as $400 HKD (about $50 in U.S. currency) a critter, rabbits seem to make good gifts, especially during the holidays—until they chew up your furniture and household wires.
“Rabbits are not that interactive,” Shirley Tong, chairperson of HKRS, told the Hong Kong Economic Journal. “They see you as friends, but not as owner. That’s why they seldom obey orders.”
Part of Chui’s goal is to help kids and their parents who can afford the space to understand what it takes to raise a bunny. “A lot of parents bring their kids here if they want to buy a rabbit, so they know it’s not all about playing with them—it’s a lot of work and responsibility,” he told AFP.
But for the many who don’t have the luxury of space, and who have second thoughts about committing up to 12 years (their average lifespan) to a cuddly bundle of mayhem, a rabbit cafe may be the next best option.