HUMANS may have colonized, taken over, or settled in most of the world’s lands, but some places on Earth that are still overrun by cuties.
Yes, you read right. Whether by accident or by design, these places boast a large population of cute animals. And the “animal settlement” destinations still exist to this day, attracting both locals as well as foreigners.
From adorable kitties to fluffy rabbits, to the odd crab or two, here are some places in Asia-Pacific where the animal population outnumbers humans. That you can visit, of course.
Foxes: Zao Fox Village, Japan
Located in the country’s Miyagi prefecture, the Zao Fox Village is a magical sanctuary of six different species of fox.
To some Japanese, foxes are believed to have mystical powers or a messenger of Inari Ōkami, the Shinto deity of fertility, rice, tea, and sake. Legend has it that Inari’s foxes are pure white and thus are called byakkosan (white foxes).
The Zao Fox Village is home to more than 100 roaming, wild foxes. As the foxes aren’t particularly shy, visitors can walk amongst them and feed them, but for a small fee.
Crabs: Christmas Island, Australia
The sight of the army of bright red crabs on Australia’s Christmas Island could give you the creeps, considering their numbers. But being there is still an experience of a lifetime, nonetheless.
Once upon a time, it was estimated that 43.7 million adult red crabs once lived on the island. Alas, the yellow crazy ant (we’re not even making this up) wiped out about 10 to 15 million of them in the recent years.
The crabs are so celebrated that each October, right after the start of the wet season, certain roads on the island are shut down to allow safe passage for their annual mass migration.
Deer: Miyajima Island, Japan
In the Shinto religion, some animals are considered divine messengers, and the deer is one of them. Hence, it’s no surprise that the four-legged friends are respected and loved in Japan.
Other than the popular Nara park, one other Japanese destination that is home to wild, sika deer is the island of Miyajima.
It’s believed that they used to live in the mountains but due to tourism developments, the deer moved down to the coast where they now reside. Travelers may go pay a visit, but they’re not allowed to feed the deer.
Rabbits: Ōkunoshima, Japan
For the uninitiated, Ōkunoshima actually has a dark history. Decades ago, the island was home to a poison gas plan that made over six kilotons of mustard gas. However, the poison was disposed of after the Second World War and the laboratory animals were set loose.
Which explains the hundreds of rabbits roaming the streets freely and with little fear of humans.
There are no natural predators native to the island, and no cats or dogs are allowed either. So the community of fluffy ones continue to thrive, and cutely, at that.
Sheep: New Zealand
If there are any destinations in the Asia-Pacific that can confidently claim they have a seriously cute problem, it’s none other than New Zealand.
The sheep were first dropped off by British explorer James Cook in 1772, which started some kind of New Zealand domination. About three decades ago, the country’s sheep population was benchmarked at 22 sheep per person. That’s about 70.3 million sheep versus 3.2 million people.
Although the number has dropped significantly, there are still about 30 million sheep. Today, the sheep contributed to sheep farming, a dominant agricultural industry in New Zealand.
Cats: Tashirojima, Japan
In Japan’s Tashirojima fishing village, cats are king. In fact, Tashirojima has hundreds of cats, but only 100 people.
It’s believed that a long time ago when the village was raising silkworms, cats were introduced to prey on the mice that preyed on the worms. When the population kept growing, the fisherman simply took it as a sign of luck and good fortune.
Today, the cats are so protected that there are multiple shrines honoring the animal and dogs are not allowed on the island. There are even vacation homes shaped like these feline friends that are open to curious visitors.