FEATURE

An exciting place for Adults and Children alike! Fukuoka City Zoological Garden has been renewed as one of the most entertaining zoos in Japan.

福岡市動物園アジア熱帯の渓谷エリア

The zoo has been a popular recreation spot for Fukuoka citizens for more than 60 years. A 20-year plan to renovate the entire zoo is currently underway. In the first stage of the plan, the Valleys of Tropical Asia area was opened in September 2013. It has been a bit over 3 years since that opening, but when I visited the zoo the other day after a long absence, I was surprised how much it had changed! It is no exaggeration to say that the zoo has been transformed into a place of entertainment that both adults and children can enjoy. Some days after my visit, I returned to gather information for this report.

I toured the zoo with their manager of public relations. The manager shared some background on the zoo’s animals and information on renovated facilities, focusing on the recently-renewed Valleys of Tropical Asia area.

The manager says that the focus of the renewal is to design exhibits in a way so that animals can be observed demonstrating their true nature and characteristics. The exhibits are designed to allow visitors to observe these animals more closely than before.

■I met the star of the Valleys of Tropical Asia area!

福岡市動物園_ゾウ

After entering through the front gate, the entrance to the Valleys of Tropical Asia area will be on your left, where you will find the elephant house. Here, you can meet Hanako the elephant, who came to the zoo in 1973. I watched her as she used her flexible trunk to expertly pick up food.

The largest monkey to live in trees makes an appearance

オランウータン

A bit further down the path, the 15-meter tall orangutan tower comes into view. I was able to see Mimi the male orangutan slowly climbing the tower. Although I know that orangutans are at home on the trees, I was very nervous that he might fall from his perch high above as he moved around. From the observation room next the tower, I watched as white-handed gibbons frolicked around on ropes.

福岡市動物園_シロテナガザル

Cute otters look right at home swimming expertly through the water!

福岡市動物園_コツメカワウソ

Next, we went to the exhibit of Oriental small-clawed otters, which is a popular attraction for visitors. Underwater tunnels, ladders and an overhead tunnel are built in a way that bring the otters right in front of visitors, so they can watch the otters run and swim playfully all around them. Children are so excited to see them that they put their faces right up against the glass as if they were stuck there.

福岡市動物園_小さな入り口

When you step outside of the exhibit, you will find a small entrance waiting for you. The entrance beckons you to enter and see for yourself what animal awaits you inside. Perhaps you will be able to look at an animal close-up, eye-to-eye? Some elementary students who went in there came out excited saying, “That was scary!” or “It was gold colored!”

Wow! A leopard is taking a nap right in front of you.

福岡市動物園_ヒョウ

While I have already told you the exhibits are designed to bring visitors close to animals, this was the closest encounter yet. When you see this wild animal up close you feel like you could almost touch it. Furthermore, the net set over the visitor path is a favorite spot for leopards to take a nap. You can almost hear the quiet rasp of the sleeping leopard’s relaxed breathing.

You can also enjoy the fun-filled learning space!

1回分のフン

Furthermore, the zoo improved its educational facilities where visitors can learn about animal life. The facility has life-size replicas of elephant teeth and dung (they produce 40 kilograms of dung a day!) and panels with illustrations that reveal the secrets of animals. All visitors young and old can enjoy learning about animals together. On top of that, the manager told me how the playful zookeepers and staff like hiding animal figures and other surprises along the paths for visitors to find them.

Apart from the Valleys of Tropical Asia area, the zoo’s “North Park” has animals such as giraffes and kangaroos, and the zoo’s “South Park” includes lions and zebras. In addition to the animal exhibits, facilities such as an animal science center and attractions such as a Ferris wheel provide a variety of educational opportunities and entertainment for children and adults alike.

福岡市動物園_キリン

Come and visit Fukuoka City Zoological Garden, which has evolved into a habitat where animals can feel at home in natural environments. New discoveries await both past visitors and new visitors, making for enjoyable outings every time. Please come and take in everything the zoo has to offer.

Fukuoka City Zoological Garden

  • Ohori/Ropponmatsu Area

Take bus #56 or #57 from Tenjin Kyowa Biru-mae (10) stop and get off at the Dobutsuen-mae or Jochi Fukuoka Chuko-mae stops.
Take bus #58 from stop “A” at Hakata-ekimae and get off at the Dobutsuen-mae stop.
Take a subway to Yakuin-Odori Station on the Nanakuma (green) lines, and then walk for 15 minutes.

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