Dan and I love a zoo. That much is known.
We recently discovered Tama Zoo, about one hour West of central Tokyo. It is set in hilly grounds and has a wide range of animals, including an excessive amount of Giraffes (there were about 15!). You can explore the zoo on foot, and walk about 10km doing so, or catch the handy shuttle bus round and round and round.
Like most of Tokyo some parts of the zoo are currently under construction. However, there is still the chance to enjoy all of the big hits, like Tigers, Elephants, and thousands of butterflies in a beautiful insect sanctuary. The cages reminded us of Chester Zoo in the UK, which is famous for removing cages and instead using other methods to keep animals and people safe, like installing moats. This is possible as the zoo site sits on a whopping 129 acres in the Tama hills / mountains. This makes for some unique animal viewing, as you get an unobstructed view of the animals whilst also getting very fit.
As usual, one of the highlights were the Red Panda’s who were seriously enjoying life. I also found the butterfly house pretty mesmerizing, as the sun was starting to set so the light was shining through beautifully on all of the floating butterflies. The Tiger also captivated me for some time, as she was pacing around her cage clearly looking / smelling something. It really felt like one well timed jump and she’d reach her goal!
Tama zoo is owned by the Japanese government and is a branch of the slightly better known Ueno Zoo in central Tokyo. The animals between the two zoos get shared and the animals ‘show times’ (when they are out and about for visitors to see) are strictly monitored. Japan has had bad press around it’s treatment of zoo animals in the past, and at Tama you can really see some of the changes made to improve animal conditions taking effect. It was a wonderful day out in the Tama hills, not bad for a mere 600 yen (about 3.50) too! We can’t wait to go back.