No kidding - goats help lure customers to Tokyo cafe

TOKYO Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:13am EDT

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TOKYO (Reuters) - First, there were the maid cafes, their customers pampered by women in maids' uniforms. Then came the cat cafes, which allowed cat lovers to play with frisky felines while sipping a cup of coffee.

Now, enter the goat cafe, which houses a pair of friendly goats for customers to pet, play with and even take for walks through Tokyo's concrete jungle.

Rena Kawaguchi and her staff brought the animals - named Sakura and Chocolat, or Cherry and Chocolate - three years ago, hoping to attract a new breed of animal-loving customers and spice up flagging weekend business.

"Back then animal cafes were booming, places where you could play with cats or dogs," Kawaguchi said. "But we reckoned a normal animal like that wouldn't have the wow factor of a goat."

Customers can pet the goats in their pen while drinking a coffee, or book a slot to take them for a walk through the crowded area surrounding Shibuya station, a hub for commuters and Tokyo's trend-conscious youth.

"When you live in the city like I do, places where you can meet animals are so far away and you rarely get the time to go there," said Kotaro Nakazato, a 21-year-old university student.

"Having them nearby like this makes it easy to commune with nature."

Keeping the goats has its challenges. Staff have to muck out their pen between serving customers, and the goats are fed special protein-rich pills to prevent foul-smelling droppings.

With the goats proving a hit, Kawaguchi says she's got even bigger plans. An elephant cafe is at the top of her list, although it was not clear what her pen-cleaning staff thought of the prospect.

(Reporting by Ruairidh Villar; Writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by Paul Tait)

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