The Inner City Zoo is a Japanese pet shop condemned by animal activists for caging and selling penguins, meerkats, alligators, monkeys and other exotic animals.
Located in a cramped room, on the second floor of an office building in Yokohama, NOAH: The Inner City Zoo is hardly the kind of place you’d think of keeping exotic animals.
But ever since 1999, NOAH (Nature Orientated Animal House) has been the go-to source for all kinds of unusual pets, from alligators to otters and cranes. Many of them are endangered in their natural habitats, but that doesn’t seem to raise any red flags with Japanese animal protection authorities, and neither does the fact they are all being kept in tiny cages, with barely enough space to move around. The controversial pet shop’s clientele also seems to ignore the improper conditions, and spends thousands of dollars on unique pets.
Animal rights organizations around the world have condemned NOAH for selling exotic animals people have little to no knowledge how to take care of, and are urging people not to visit or buy anything from it. “Exotic animals should live in the wild as nature intended, not in captivity as a source of entertainment and prestige, and to line the pockets of greedy pet shop owners. Breeding and selling wild animals as exotic pets is cruel and irresponsible”, said Alan Knight, chief executive of International Animal Rescue. He is sure many of the exotic animals acquired as pets eventually end up abandoned, after their owners get bored with them, or after they grow too big and strong to manage. It also encourages the capturing and selling of these creatures, endangering their global population.
But Kenji Takahashi, the 59-year-old owner of NOAH: The Inner City Zoo, says he’s just “trying to increase the love that humans have for exotic animals.” “My premises may not be perfect and the space we have for each animal is not as big as we would sometimes like, but the same could be said for any zoo across the world,” Takahashi says. He believes his pet shop helps people appreciate nature more, because they realize that’s where their pets come from. That’s one “great” excuse to charge people $6 just to look through your shop, and thousands of bucks for exotic pets.
About the animals at NOAH, one onlooker said “Most animals were quiet, as if they’d come to terms with their enforced captivity. Many are in tiny cages, and the owls are tightly fixed down so they can’t fly. The animals looked sad”. Judging by the sizes of the cages they are kept in, it’s no surprise all these poor creatures are sad, but as long as they it doesn’t bother shoppers, this pet store remains in business.
Just last week, I wrote an article about the controversial Lujan Zoo, where people are allowed to pet and interact with dangerous animals, but NOAH: The Inner City Zoo makes that place look like animal heaven.
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