A customer plays with call ducks at a cafe in Shanghai on April 30, 2020. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
SHANGHAI — Hidden on the eighth floor of an office building at Wujiaochang Community in Shanghai, a cafe became a favorite spot for youngsters in the city to spend the five-day International Labor Day holiday.
Sitting in the cafe decorated in the Japanese style, customers enjoyed their coffee. On the table in front of them, two snow-white call ducks idly waddled around.
The Cute Duck Club, the first duck cafe in Shanghai where customers can spend two hours playing with call ducks, a bantam breed of domesticated duck small in size and with silky feathers now raised as pets.
Some customers even drew inspiration from me and opened their own cat cafes
Liu Jiawen, Founder of the cafe
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The club has attracted many youngsters as the ducks have become increasingly popular in recent years. "These ducks are so vivacious and interactive, and it is so much fun to play with them," said a customer surnamed Zhu at the cafe.
Fendi and Pucci, the two call ducks in front of her, craned their necks and gently pecked her palm from time to time. Her phone was in overdrive as she took selfie after selfie with the photogenic birds. "This new kind of pet business is such a novelty," she said.
Liu Jiawen, the twentysomething founder of the cafe, said there are now six call ducks at the cafe, along with nine cats, two pet pigs and other pets.
Liu decided to resign from her former job and set up her own business three years ago because of her passion for animals. Back then the pet cafe industry in Shanghai was still in its infancy.
She took a chance and opened a cat cafe, which soon became popular in Shanghai. "In fact, it's hard to remain in a leading position, since the new pet business develops so fast," she said. Data shows there are now nearly 300 pet cafes operating in the city.
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"Some customers even drew inspiration from me and opened their own cat cafes," she said.
Sensing people's interest in call ducks, she decided to choose them as the signature pets of her cafe about six months ago, which proved to be a huge success. "There are 30 to 40 customers on weekdays and more than 200 on weekends," she said. "Visiting my cafe has become a way for many customers to seek comfort when faced with pressure."
Liu plans to bring more pets to her cafe in the future. "I believe African pygmy hedgehogs will be as popular as the call ducks," she said.
In China, owning pets is a growing trend. The pet dog population in China reached 27.4 million in 2018, ranking third in the world after the United States and Brazil, according to official statistics.
HONG KONG NEWS