Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Exotic Pet Shop

While walking down the street in downtown Kyoto one night I saw a shop with two cages to the left of the entrance. The upper cage was full of vampire bats. A drunken salaryman was poking the bats with a stick through the bars. All they wanted to do was hang upside down in peace. They kept trying to find a spot in the cage that was out of his reach. In the lower cage was a large capybara surrounded by about half a dozen prairie dogs. They went unmolested.
I stepped inside the shop. The floor was glass. Under the glass were tarantulas, scorpions, and other dangerous creepy crawlies. At waist level in the front room were several glass cases filled with poisonous snakes. In the back was a wolf in a cage. To the left of the wolf was a lioness on a chain. There was no barrier between the lion and the customers. She paced back and forth, angrily or hungrily or both, eyeing all the humans that passed by. She had a price tag for 100,000 yen, which was about 9,000 dollars at the time.
Upstairs it was a completely different vibe. There were dozens of exotic housecats lounging about. Some of them were the biggest housecats I'd ever seen. There were Persians and Egyptians and Siamese. Several cushy armchairs and sofas were placed about the room to encourage lingering and petting. The lights were low and the music was soft. It was quite a contrast to the deadly menagerie downstairs.
Leaving the shop a little while later, I saw that the same drunken salaryman was still outside tormenting those poor vampire bats.

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