Not even in a zoo can someone come so close to all the exotic animals who call Pet Me their home. Around 20 species, most of which are parrots, roam free on the ground of the mansion in D2. “The main attraction I think is that you can interact with these birds since they’re not caged,” says Lê Anh Tai, the owner. Long before he opened Pet Me, Lê was a hobbyist in training exotic animals, coming from a family of veterinarians. “At first, I was just interested in dogs and cats, then I got to know more about parrots, iguana, squirrels, animals like that.” Then a few trips abroad solidified his resolve, and so the idea of opening a café to showcase these creatures was born.
For a small child or even an amateurish adult, being so close to these birds, whose beauty and temperament truly reflects their dinosaur lineage, can be a bit strange at first, if not downright terrifying, but as Pet Me claims, the animals here have all been domesticated. “They were bred and raised by humans in countries like Singapore or the U.S before we imported them.” Some parrots here even learned to say many words, but according to Lê, these particularly talented birds all got bought by visitors very quickly after their arrivals. “The birds here can get angry sometimes when they are new, but after a while, they get attached to human affection just like any cuddly pet.”
A small army of caretakers and veterinarians wait at the animals’ beck and call. If you speak to the employees here, they can point out the quirks of each animal, like the squirrel that loves bread so much it might just steal some from your own table or the cockatoo that won’t leave your shoulder once it is perched there. Having coffee at Pet Me, as a result, is definitely not a chilled sit-down drink. “Mostly we have parents taking their kids here for learning experiences,” Lê and his partners have decided to infuse the café with other services like arts and educational activities for kids.
For the little ones who like animals, Pet Me is indeed a top-notch idea for the weekend. Still, there have been some concerns raised about such exotic animal cafés around the world. According to Straitstimes, some wildlife activists have been critical of a similar trend in Thailand, believing it can stoke illegal trade. So far, no endangered animal has been shown in Pet Me or similar cafés though. Lê reassures every visitor that he has the permits for all the animals that he has bought and that the creatures are tended to with utmost love and care.
For all your parrot-coffee combo needs, head to Pet Me on 198 Nguyễn Văn Hưởng, Thảo Điền, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City.