A white cat in a yellow dress perched on top of a cinema seat in Bangkok while, not far away, a chihuahua dressed as Sebastian the crab got ready watching Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' with its owner.
A terrier even impersonated Ariel with a red wig and mermaid tail.
They were among dozens of four-legged moviegoers who arrived in buggies on Saturday for the opening of Thailand's first pet-friendly cinema on the outskirts of the capital.
Thailand's pet industry is considered the second largest in Asia, behind China's, with some 8.3 million dogs and 3.7 million cats in 2021, according to industry data. /p>
The number of pets has increased again during the coronavirus pandemic, and some companies are now trying to take advantage of it.
First successful experiences< /strong>
Mano, 37, brought his cat Kati to the cinema.
“We sometimes take him to work…today is like an experiment,” he told AFP. We are going to see “The Little Mermaid”. He's going to love seeing all the fish on screen.”
Animals had to wear diapers and sit in bags while sound and lighting were set for their comfort, explained Narute Jiensnong, spokesperson for Major Cineplex.
“Bangkok is not a very animal-friendly city,” Narute told AFP, adding that the concept was inspired by child-friendly theaters.
Narute noticed that some pets acquired during the pandemic suffer from separation anxiety now that owners are no longer working from home or cooped up.
“In children's cinemas, children run around shouting or screaming… I think the same will be true for animal cinemas. Everyone who comes will have a pet and be understanding [if the dogs bark],” he said.
Major Cineplex isn't the only company opening its doors to these little ones. visitors.
Earlier this month, Swedish furniture giant Ikea announced that small dogs and cats were welcome in its Thai stores, provided they were seated in prams.
A controversial project
Outside the cinema, howls of disappointment were heard when a 62-kilo Alaskan Malamute named Tungchae, who arrived in a 1.5-square-metre fan-equipped dog cart, was deemed to be too big to fit in the cinema.
Despite the animal protection measures put in place by cinemas, not all pet owners were thrilled with the idea.
A long-time expat in Bangkok said that although her cat frequently falls asleep next to her on the sofa watching TV at home, she would never take her pet to the movies and thinks that the concept is “against nature” and constitutes “torture”.
“I don't know if it's pleasant for the animal to be locked in a cage,” she explains to AFP.
“It's so ridiculous that dogs are not allowed in parks [in most Bangkok cities], but they can go to the cinema or to the cafe. What happens next? Are you going to take your dog or cat to a massage parlour?”