Wednesday, January 17, 2007

4. Zoo Review: The Ueno Zoo (Ueno Park)

The Ueno Zoo is located inside Ueno Park. It is open from 9:30am to 5pm (gates close at 4pm, viewing of some animals ends at 4:30pm).

Admission: Adults: 600 yen, Seniors (65 and over) 300 yen, Youths (12-14) 200 yen
Groups of 20 or more: Adults: 480 yen, Seniors 240 yen, Youths 160 yen
Annual Pass: Adults: 2400, Seniors: 1,200

*Elementary school children are free.
*Students living or attending school in Tokyo are admitted free (must show valid student ID).

Admission is free on: Zoo's Anniversary: March 20; Greenery Day: April 29; and Tokyo Citizen's Day: October 1.

Closed: Every Monday (closes Tuesday if Monday is a public holiday). Dec. 29 - Jan. 1

Visitor Services:
Monorail: Age 12+ 150 yen, Age 2-11 80 yen
Baby strollers are available at the main gate and Ikenohata Gate for 300 yen

I first visited the Ueno Zoo about 10 years ago. The exhibits almost brought me to tears, I didn't even make it though the entire zoo. Since it was included in the Grutt Pass, I decided to give it another try.

Not much has changed. The zoo is crammed into an area much too small for the number of animals living there. In viewing the polar bears, hippos, rhinos,..., I just felt really sorry for them. It was quite depressing. It does seem that the zoo is making an effort, though. The gorillas and lions were both housed in new habitats, and there was significant emphasis on educating the public on those species. The areas were still a little small, but very much improved. At least the concrete was gone, replaced by trees, grass, and actual dirt!

The zoo has a long way to go, but I will give it a few points for trying. Unfortunately, it is still an embarrassment for a city as rich as Tokyo. The sad thing is, very few Japanese seem to see it that way. The treatment of animals in Japan has a long way to go.

I do not recommend visiting this zoo unless you are teaching your children how 'not to treat' animals.

**Free entry with Grutt Pass 2007 (#6)

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