City Weekend

Hong Kong’s first rabbit cafe stops selling food to avoid shutdown of business

Move comes after government officials found it was trading without a food licence

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 September, 2016, 5:29pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 September, 2016, 5:30pm

Hong Kong’s first rabbit cafe has stopped selling food in a bid to remain open after the authorities found it was operating illegally.

The South China Morning Post reported last month that the owners of Rabbitland in Causeway Bay were in hot water for trading without a food licence.

Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) inspectors launched legal proceedings against the owners, who may face a HK$50,000 fine and a six-month prison sentence under the Food Business Regulation Act. Co-owners Teddy Chui and Ricky Lam now only sell drinks and offer space to consume takeaway food at their premises, which houses 12 formerly abandoned rabbits, and said they are applying for a food licence.

Hong Kong’s first rabbit cafe in hot water over licensing problems

Chui said government inspectors had visited on Tuesday, and ruled the cafe was no longer in violation of the law as it had ceased selling food, although the original licence breach still stood.

In an interview with the Post, they said they did not have a long-term vision for their first business, but had consulted with an independent company over how to obtain the relevant food licence. “We did not think it required so many procedures,” Chui said. “It was a misunderstanding.”

They hoped to serve food at the cafe by Christmas, he added.

Local animal rights campaigners have suggested the cafe could be causing stress to the rabbits, but the owners have denied this, arguing they are well cared for.

Despite the owners’ claim that they have applied for a food licence, a spokeswoman for the FEHD said it had not received an application. She said legal action was still being taken against the cafe but no timetable had been set for a possible court case.