A coffee shop in New Taipei City that reportedly allows customers to interact with alpacas has drawn complaints from the Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is calling on the government to step in to protect the animals.
The society said it had discovered that customers could pay NT$16,000 to have an alpaca delivered to the shop, apparently so that people can play with them and take photographs with the animals.
The alpacas are kept at the cafe, the group said, showing reporters pictures of the animals taken at the coffee shop last month.
The society said members who visited the cafe had found the alpacas had knots and paint in their fleeces, which were damp, and that customers could approach and touch the animals without supervision.
A boy was seen chasing and hitting one of the alpacas during the group’s visit, but the shop’s employees did nothing to stop him, society members said.
The alpacas should not be kept in such an inappropriate living environment, the society said, adding that allowing people to play or take photographs with the animals puts the alpacas under pressure for long hours.
It said it was also worried about the spread of diseases.
Although the cafe claimed that animal control officers accompanied the alpacas when they were rented out to other locations, it was doubtful whether the officers are animal behavior specialists or veterinarians, the society said.
While there are no clear regulations governing the rental of animals, according to the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法), pet owners are required to provide adequate food, water, room, a clean living environment, necessary disease prevention, protection against harm or maltreatment and appropriate care of their animals, the society said.
Alpacas are native to the Andes Mountains.