Location: Asahikawa, Japan
Highlights: Seal swim through tunnel, Wolf exhibit
Children Friendly (9): The zoo was not overly large so little legs could make it through okay. Plenty of viewing levels at each exhibit which would allow younger children great opportunities to see the animals. There were some interactive areas in buildings and near exhibits as well. A petting zoo is always a big draw for younger kids but does add a risk factor for younger children and/or children who don’t respect the animals.
Animal Diversity (8): This zoo had great diversity in terms of mammals and birds but was lacking when it came to reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. They had small samplings in each of those categories but not enough to give them a full score.
Animal Viewing (10): This category they completely excelled at. I was thoroughly impressed with how good their exhibits were for viewing the specimens. Virtually every exhibit had multiple levels of viewing on multiple sides of the exhibits. This allowed underwater viewing, overhead viewing, and multiple angles. This also contributed to the amount of enjoyment at each exhibit, you were able to see the animals from multiple views and ultimately spent more time at each one.
Animals Happiness (9): Even though this zoo put in a large amount of effort for spectator viewing, it doesn’t mean they skimped on animal happiness. I was also very impressed with how realistic the exhibits looked. They took care to model the exhibits after the animal’s natural habitats and provide plenty of enrichment. I did take off one point as some of the polar bears were pacing.
Photography (10): Due to the exceptional aspects noted in animal viewing the photography was also awesome. Windows were quite clean throughout the zoo and the fencing used especially helpful for photographers. I was able to get some awesome shots of the animals during my visit.
Layout/Map (9): The map of the zoo was very accurate to the actual zoo layout and I appreciated the suggested route that was listed on it. The layout was not too sprawling so you were able to move to the next exhibit quickly. I did take away one point as certain areas of the zoo required you to go back and forth across the path to see everything, it would be easy to skip one or two exhibits without realizing.
Hours (10): Open year round the zoo and every day the zoo scores well. I would usually reduce the amount of points for a somewhat early closing time every day, especially during the summer but the sun sets earlier in Hokkaido so I forgave them.
Price (10): I’m continuing to be amazed by the prices at the zoos in Japan. General admission is under $10 and discounts are given to city residents and groups. I was more amazed to learn that children under the age of FIFTEEN are FREE and memberships are only ~$10. Outstanding!
Food (7): They had a number of restaurants throughout the zoo which was nice, they were evenly spread. The size of them was ok and the food looked decent but nothing spectacular. As per the rest of Japan there was also a number of drink vending machines spaced around.
Website (5): The website is ok but does look a little dated. They do have language options which was appreciated but doesn’t give a whole lot of information besides a copy of the guide. If all you’re looking for is the basic zoo info than it serves its purpose.
Gift Shop (7): Again the gift shop was ok but nothing special. They did have more than one shop throughout the park, none of them overly large. They did have some unique items inside and were priced reasonably but I think they could do well with adding some more products.
Quiet Areas (10): This zoo had some great quiet spots throughout. They had plenty of connecting/bypass pathways which offered quieter routes through trees if you wanted to skip exhibits or step out of the way for a minute. Benches were also seen throughout.
Safety/Cleanliness (9): Typical for Japan the zoo was very clean. No litter or debris was seen throughout our visit. Viewing glass on exhibits were also very clear and taken care of. Some hills were a little steep which could be an issue for people with wheelchairs or strollers.
Extras (5): This may be due to my lack of Japanese but there didn’t seem to be an abundance of extras at this zoo. They did have a small education centre and a library which was a nice idea. An outdoor stage is present but no information was provided on what it was used for or when.
Overall (8.4): I would highly recommend this zoo. It was a wonderful experience seeing the animals in fun, enriching habitats. If you’re a photographer or someone tired of having mediocre views of zoo animals, definitely check this place out!