Cats, dogs, rabbits, sheep—you name it, there is no limit to the types of animals people will cuddle when they have a latte in one hand and an iPhone in the other. Even still, Pooltime Raccoon Cafe in Bangkok is unique in that it’s devoted solely to raccoons.
Thai entrepreneurs Pongpob and Sarocha opened the two-story cafe in an Ekkamai strip mall in fall of 2016. Every inch of the place was conceived with Instagram in mind: white walls, an electric blue staircase, marble tabletops, and neon signage. Even Pooltime’s signature burger is served on a photo-ready blue bun. A stack of pancakes with strawberries, cream, and chocolate syrup is another popular dish—and definitely not because it tastes good. Visitors who want to save a buck can just order a drink and help themselves to free pretzels with sweet mustard or candy canes. (Weird combo, don’t ask.)
When you’re ready to play with some raccoons (a 15-minute session costs 150 baht or $4.50 USD per person), head upstairs, wash your hands, and remove your shoes before entering their glass-enclosed lair. Up to five guests may visit at a time, and always under staff supervision. Guests waiting their turn can watch the raccoons’ antics through a large glass window.
There are three raccoons employed at Pooltime: Bobby, Apo, and Yee-pun. Bobby and Apo are “boyfriend and girlfriend,” says Pongpob. They are alert, curious, and crazy-squirmy, running back and forth and every which way. Tracking their antics is like watching a tennis match on fast forward.
Pongpob hand-feeds the raccoons cashews and bananas. Sometimes he even cradles them like babies. Although these raccoons were born in captivity, they’re still wild animals that barely tolerate being cuddled, even by their owner. The best you can do if you’re hoping for a #raccoonselfie is sit back and wait for one to scramble up your arm and onto your head—be patient, it’ll happen.
FYI: Pongpob says he acquired his three raccoons from Bangkok’s sprawling Chatuchak Market, but they originally came from Madagascar. This raised an eyebrow for us, but raccoons are considered legal pets in Thailand and can be purchased easily on the open market. Still, it seems only prudent to point out that markets like Chatuchak have come under fire from numerous animal rights’ groups for trading illegal and endangered wildlife species. So, you know. Do with that information what you will.
582 Soi Sukhumvit 63, Bangkok, Thailand; +66-90-652-4109.