There are dozens of different animal cafes around China — places where you can sip tea and hang out with cats, owls or raccoons. But there’s only one where you can hang out with “pandas.”
A cafe owner in Chengdu dyed his six chow-chow dogs to resemble giant pandas, according to the Chengdu Economic Times. The six “panda-dogs” roam the cafe and go up to customers as they’re eating their food.
The Cute Pet Games Cafe opened in Chengdu last month, home to several panda bases and breeding centers. One cafe owner decided to get on the region’s biggest tourist attractions by offering a service where dog owners can come in and have their animals dyed to resemble China’s national mascot.
"It costs 1,500 Chinese yuan ($212) to dye (a pet) each time," the owner, surnamed Huang, said in the video. In the video, he said that the cafe has a dedicated team of dyers and that the dye is of a quality where it won’t hurt the animals’ skin or hair. It takes staff about one day to transform a Chow Chow into a panda, according to the Hindu Times.
But several animal rights groups have protested the business, saying that dyeing animals’ fur is unethical. And one vet, Li Daibing, told Hongxing News that he did not encourage people to dye their pets, saying that “this could damage their fur and skin." Several commentors posted on the Chinese social network Weibo against the practice.
Following the online backlash, the cafe announced that it would no longer offer the dyeing service, according to The Guardian. In a statement on Weibo, the cafe said of the in-house panda-dogs, “As their owners, their lives are much better than ours. They are also very healthy. Netizens please don’t project your thoughts on to us.”