zao fox village
Zao fox village Olena Shmahalo/Flickr

Zao Fox Village in Japan is a village full of foxes. There are six different types of fox and they roam a reserve in Miyagi prefecture freely, with tourists able to walk around and feed them for a fee of around £4.

The reserve was opened in 1990 and now has over 200 foxes, including silver, platinum and Japanese red foxes. A blog post about the village on notes the first part of the sanctuary is similar to a petting zoo, with some foxes in cages.

However, when you go through to the main reserve, foxes can be found roaming around. Visitors are advised against hand feeding and petting them, but they will approach people for food to be thrown to them. Videos and images of the reserve has gained widespread media attention over recent months, some of which can be seen below.

zao fox village
zao fox village Olena Shmahalo/Flickr

But Fox Village is not the only animal-friendly place to capture the public's imagination in recent years. Below are other parts of the world where a single species has taken over.

Cat Island

Another area of Japan where animals have taken a foothold is Aoshima, or cat island, where felines outnumber people by six to one. The island made global headlines in March last year after Reuters photographer Thomas Peter documented Aoshima's feline population. The cats were originally brought to the island to sort out its rodent problem. With no natural predators, their numbers soon multiplied, leading to the creation of 'cat island'.

Aoshima cat island Japan
Thomas Peter/Reuters

Pig Island

In the Bahamas, tourists regularly flock to the uninhabited island in Big Major Cay, known for its swimming pigs. Located on the archipelago of Exuma, it is not known exactly how the pigs got there – some suggest they were involved in a shipwreck and managed to swim to shore. Others say they were placed there by sailors who thought they would be a good food source, but then never returned. Another theory is they were put there as a tourist attraction.

Regardless, the population thrived as a result of the fresh water springs and sheltered location. Now, the pigs have learned to swim out to boats to get food after crews on passing yachts started dumping excess food into the sea.

Swimming pigs
Swimming pigs on Pig Island in the Bahamas CC

Rabbit Island

Returning to Japan, the island of Okunoshima has become overrun with rabbits. The bunnies were introduced there after WWII when the island was developed as a park. After being set lose they thrived as it is illegal to hunt them. Cats and dogs are also forbidden on the island, meaning there are few natural predators. A video of a tourist being swarmed by the rabbits emerged in 2014, bringing attention to Okunoshima and its fluffy residents.