Note: Japanese zoos are generally not the best place regarding animal welfare. Most of the zoos, I have visited have a few cages where my heart breaks for the welfare of the animals. That said, I believe zoos do have a role to play in educating people, protecting the animals and inspiring the next generation. Steve Backshall summed it up beautifully in This article in the Huffington Post. I take my children to zoos, to generate a greater love for animals, educate them about the animals and their plight in the wild and I use the opportunity to discuss animal welfare.
Tobu Zoo Park came recommended by a friend who was telling me about the white tiger cubs that had recently arrived at the park. So we headed up during the October 1/2 term to visit it. Wow- There was so much more than just a zoo!
As we walked through the entrance, the first animals that we saw were Japanese animals. We had been recently watching the BBC series on Japan (well worth watching!) and J was so excited to see the animals in real life that he had just seen on TV!
The zoo has over 120 different species of animals with more than 1200 animals in total. some of them were in some lovely cages, but there were the usual heartbreaking moments. The children loved the watching the white tigers and the sea lion show.
What we hadn’t realised when we set out for the zoo is that it is more than just a zoo. it has a petting zoo, amusement rides, gardens and in the summer a water park. I think another visit in the summer will be well worth it.
We only bought the admission tickets (¥1700 for an adult, ¥700 for a child) so I only allowed the children one ride on a rollercoaster. There was a vending machine where I could buy single tickets.
Access to the zoo is relatively straight forward by car. That said, we were driving along a small road and I was convinced we were lost, when we suddenly came across the entrance! There is a train station right at the one entrance and as the journey only takes 70 minutes from Shibuya, it would be very tempting to head up there by train next time.
For more information visit their website: http://www.tobuzoo.com/global/english/