It’s been 12 days since we heard that London might be getting a fox café. Since then, more than 7,000 people have signed up for tickets, and eight people have sent over CVs asking for volunteering positions.
Now, Mark – the man behind the venture – has decided it will no longer go ahead. He writes on the Stevie The Fox blog: ‘Over the last two days it has been brought to my attention that bringing wild animals to an event would be too distressing for them and hamper their chances of successful rehabilitation.’
We talked to the 27 year-old digital marketer about the café yesterday. While he admitted there had been difficulties – he hadn’t yet found a venue and he was unable to reveal the charity he was working with – he did seem sure it would go ahead. He said:
‘When I started last Sunday, I didn’t have any plans. I put the idea out there to see what the uptake was like. If there was no interest I wouldn’t have considered trying to do it, but within three days, 3,000 people had expressed their interest. It pulled the rug from under my feet.
‘I’ve been getting emails and tweets from angry people who aren’t happy that animals are being brought in and handled. It’s tough, and really hard not to take the criticism personally. People have the impression that they’ll walk into a Caffe Nero and there’ll be animals running around. That’s the not the case. It will be more of a classroom opportunity; everyone sat in a U-shape in a large event space to look at the animals.
‘Concerns about animal welfare are my number one priority. I’ve even got in touch with the RSPCA and asked whether, once we’ve got our plans together, they’ll please pull them to pieces. If the foxes can’t be handled, they can’t be handled. I’ll let people know before they buy tickets and attendees will still able to see them up close. And, if it’s it’s a complete no-go then I’ll pull the events.
‘Like every London fad, animal cafés will reach a peak. It’ll probably be when somebody does one and the welfare of the animals isn’t at the heart of it.’
Read about London’s best coffee shops and cafés here