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This Japanese cafe lets customers mingle with mini pigs

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Mini pigs are now the latest craze in Japan, with one Tokyo cafe offering customers the chance to pet them for a small cost.

It’s a hit: Opened in Meguro ward as the country’s first pig cafe in 2019, Tokyo’s Mipig Cafe is one of about 10 such cafés in the city that feature miniature pigs, much like how cat or dog cafes operate, according to the Associated Press.

Despite not spending any money on advertising, the cafe reportedly receives a steady stream of customers, who all heard about the establishment from social media.

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What they offer: For 2,200 yen ($15), Mipig Cafe customers can spend time and mingle with the resident teacup pigs for 30 minutes. They can also buy one from the cafe for 200,000 yen ($1,360).

About the pigs: The miniature pigs, which are claimed to not get any bigger than a corgi dog, have been toilet-trained and socialized with humans. Like other pet animals, they are unique and have their own individual personalities, café executive Shiho Kitagawa told AP.

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More branches coming: Mipig Cafe is planning to open two new outlets in Tokyo – one in Ikebukuro Sunshine City, which has a maximum capacity of 40 people, and another in Harajuku in Takeshita Street, with a planned 20 maximum capacity, according to a press release in December.

Concerns raised: Some animal rights activists have raised concerns on whether cafe animals themselves enjoy their interactions. Sachiko Azuma, head of Tokyo-based Put an End to Animal Cruelty and Exploitation, told AP that they “have become tools for a money-making business.” The group primarily opposes animal experiments and "petting zoos" but approves of cafes that try to find new homes for abandoned pets.

Meanwhile, Timothy Bonebrake, a professor at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, highlighted the importance of the government's role in regulating such cafés.

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"Governments have a responsibility to make sure that these things are certified, that the animals are being sourced ethically and that there isn't any kind of illegal trade involved," Bonebrake told KTVN.

 

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