The mere mention of meerkats may have you reminiscing about Disney’s The Lion King or Animal Planet’s Meerkat Manor. If you are an expat or a curious traveler venturing through Korea, then there are tons of interesting animal cafés to check out. They range from the pets that are well known to the exotic ones. Over the weekend, my girlfriend and I went to go see them at Meerkat Friends. I was skeptical at first because I’m allergic to dogs and even more so to cats.
I decided to try it out and if it was too much for me, I would just step out and wait for her nearby at another regular café. How boring would that be? Fortunately when I walked in my eyes weren’t feeling irritated and neither was my nose. That was a good sign. We were told to take off our shoes and slip into some soft croc-like indoor shoes provided by the café. I looked at the drink prices and it was shocking that most of the drinks were 10,000 won. Don’t let that deter you. If you buy a single admission ticket for 7,000 won, you are allowed to get a water, coke, or coffee free of charge. Unless you plan on having a chugging contest, this should hold you over. Need to use the restroom while you are waiting? Not to worry. Restrooms are inside the café.
The café holds raccoons, wallabies, foxes, and of course meerkats. While you are waiting to sit with the meerkats, attendants walk around with treats. You can watch them feed animals and take photos, but if you are feeling brave, you can ask if you can feed the animals a treat. I have to say that apart from the raccoons, the foxes were my favorite to feed. The two meerkat enclosures allow for a large group or a small group. If you feel uncomfortable with having multiple meerkats run around and climb on you, the smaller enclosure may be a better choice because they are limited to three meerkats and visitors. My girlfriend and I waited for the larger enclosure. Since each session is roughly ten minutes, we waited about twenty minutes, but it was worth it. We were told to read the directions that go over meerkat safety as well as how to behave before going in. After a quick spray from a hand sanitizer bottle, we were heading in.
The staff mentioned that we couldn’t have anything in our pocket because meerkats are curious and will try to get it out or scratch it. I took my GoPro inside and they would try to touch it every now and then, but it was safe. I haven’t been doing yoga regularly as I used to when I was younger, so even sitting cross legged was a challenge. The meerkats took advantage of this and starting playing in the crevices of my poorly constructed blanket fort based on how I was sitting. I was smiling so much and I only realized that when my face started to hurt from doing so for so long.
They were tumbling, scampering, standing up, and doing all of the normal meerkat actions that you would imagine them doing. Most of them are trained to poop and pee in a designated area. When this happens the staff are quick to clean it up, as well as the meerkat. Before I knew it the time was up and I was really happy with the experience. I was able to feed some foxes and raccoons before I left. I had a great experience at this café and I highly recommend it.
From Sangsu (Better if you want to avoid crowds)
Get out of exit 1 and make a U-Turn
You should see a green traffic sign that displays Hapjeong Station on the left, Hongik University ahead, and Sogang University on the right. Walk forward toward Hongik University for 300 meters
Turn left on Wausan-ro 19-gil and walk for 50 meters
Turn right and walk for 50 meters
Meerkat Friends should be on the left hand side
From Hongik University Station
Get out of exit 9 and walk straight alongside the major street for one block for 100 meters
When you see the McDonalds on your left side, turn left and walk up the street for 400 meters until you see the entrance to Hongdae University
Don’t go inside. Turn right at the traffic light and walk along Wasan-ro for 100 meters. On the map it will show that you are walking alongside the Hongik Children’s Park. This was recently renovated and does not look like a park anymore. Don’t worry.
Take a right once you reach the end of that park
Then take a left once you pass the Gaenari Building
The Meerkat Friends café should be two building down on your right side