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Zoos and Aquariums

Metropolitan zoos and an aquarium have led the field of zoos and aquariums in Japan. Ueno Zoological Gardens, Japan’s first zoo, opened in 1882; Tama Zoological Park was the first in Japan to introduce a safari park style area; Inokashira Park Zoo is popular for its unique exhibition of Japanese squirrels; and the opening of Tokyo Sea Life Park (Kasai Rinkai Suizokuen) sparked a boom of giant aquariums.

To adequately respond to the changing conditions surrounding the metropolitan zoos and aquarium and to better satisfy the expectations of citizens, the TMG in September 2011 released the Master Plan for Metropolitan Zoos, which sets the vision for the metropolitan zoos and aquarium and outlines measures to achieve it. Based on the master plan, the Bureau will compile a new “zoo stock plan (a breeding plan for animals at the zoos)” to contribute to the conservation of wildlife, and implement improvements according to the location and nature of each facility, so that the zoos and aquarium will remain up to date and attractive to visitors.

Ueno Zoological Gardens

Beyond its role as a metropolitan facility, Ueno Zoological Gardens is also a zoo that represents Japan, having contributed to deepening international relations and other initiatives. In 1972, a pair of giant pandas came to the zoo as a gift from the Chinese government to commemorate the normalization of diplomatic relations. Japan’s first zoo to exhibit giant pandas, Ueno Zoological Gardens has successfully raised three cubs and cared for 11 giant pandas to date. Presently, there are three giant pandas, Ri Ri (male) ,Shin Shin (female), and Xiang Xiang (female) which is a long-awaited cub born in June 2017.
 
In addition to the giant panda, Ueno Zoological Gardens has also been dedicating efforts to the conservation of other endangered species such as the western lowland gorilla, okapi and Sumatran tiger.
 
Animals are showcased in exhibits that can only be found at Ueno Zoo. At the “Polar Bear and Seal Oceans” zone, visitors can observe the animated movements of polar bears, sea lions, and seals. The “Bear Hill” zone offers visitors a rare opportunity to see Japanese black bears in hibernation, and the “Aye-aye Forest” area exhibits the animal endemic to Madagascar.
  • Giant panda
    Giant panda
  • Aye-aye
    Aye-aye

Tama Zoological Park

Tama Zoological Park, which was opened in 1958, takes advantage of its natural setting to breed wild animals. It is renowned in and outside Japan for its successful breeding of animals which need vast spaces, such as orangutans, snow leopards, and cheetahs.
 
The Lion Bus service in the Lion Garden, the world’s first safari park style exhibit opened in 1964, still attracts many visitors.(The Lion Bus service is now suspended due to construction.)
 
Conservation is one of the main roles of a zoo, and to this end, the Wildlife Conservation Center was established at Tama Zoological Park in 2006. The center’s involvement is not limited to the breeding of rare species conducted at metropolitan zoos; it is also actively engaged in conservation efforts in their natural habitats. For example, the center shelters and breeds Japanese crested ibises in cooperation with the national government and other parties. The breeding program has produced successful results, and, since 2008, ibises born at Tama Zoological Park have been soaring in the skies of Sado, Niigata prefecture where they were released into the wild.
 
In March 2013, the zoo received a donation of two Sri Lankan elephants from the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Sri Lanka. And, in April 2013, Mongolia donated three Przewalski’s horses to the zoo with the aim of jointly promoting wildlife conservation.
 
In April 2013, the zoo also opened the “Asian Plains” zone, where gray wolves and Przewalski’s horses live in a habitat close to their natural one. In June 2015, the zoo was delighted to welcome the birth of a Przewalski’s horse foal.
  • Sri Lankan elephant
    Sri Lankan elephant
  • Przewalski's horses
    Przewalski’s horses

Tokyo Sea Life Park (Kasai Rinkai Suizokuen)

Opened in 1989, Tokyo Sea Life Park is among the first giant aquariums in Japan. Through its exhibitions and educational and research activities, the aquarium has been playing a leading role among similar facilities in this country.
 
The aquarium is focusing on programs including an exhibit housing a school of tuna, exhibits of creatures that live in the expanse of sea off of Tokyo from Tokyo Bay to the Ogasawara Islands, the largest penguin exhibit in Japan, and efforts to breed the Shuttles hoppfish, a type of mudskipper whose population in Tokyo Bay has decreased. Tokyo Sea Life Park also exhibits other species that cannot be seen in other aquariums in Japan, or the world.
 
In addition, Tokyo Sea Life Park introduced a mobile aquarium program in March 2015. The mobile aquarium visits various facilities to give those unable to come to Tokyo Sea Life Park due to illness or other reasons the opportunity to experience sea creatures, and to convey the importance of living things and the natural environment. This program is also being used to increase interest and inspire people to visit the aquarium.
  • Humboldt penguin
    Humboldt penguin
  • Mobile aquarium
    Mobile aquarium

Inokashira Park Zoo

Opened in 1942, Inokashira Park Zoo is located in the serene setting of Inokashira Park, which is filled with lush greenery and nestled in the Tokyo suburb of Musashino. This compact, easy to navigate zoo attracts many repeat visitors.
 
Inokashira Park Zoo is engaged in the conservation of the Tsushima leopard cat, in collaboration with the efforts in Nagasaki Prefecture’s Tsushima Island, the habitat of the endangered species. In addition to keeping and breeding the cat, the zoo is working to educate people about the current situation of the species and efforts to protect it. The zoo's Aquatic Life House, which exhibits freshwater animals of Japan, is involved in the breeding and conservation activities. Freshwater animals such as some species of frogs and medaka (Japanese killifish), while familiar to most people, are actually in danger of extinction. The conservation efforts are producing successful results.
 
In October 2011, the zoo completed and opened the “Ikimono Hiroba (Creature Field),” where activities are held allowing visitors to enjoy encounters with wildlife through the observation and collection of common animals such as frogs and insects.
 
As the park’s Japanese name, Inokashira Shizen Bunkaen (literally, Inokashira Nature Culture Park), suggests, there are various attractions to enjoy in addition to the zoo such as a botanical garden and a sculpture garden.
 
  • Japanese squirrel
    Japanese squirrel
  • Tsushima leopard cat
    Tsushima leopard cat
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