Location: Tokyo, Japan
Highlights: Gorilla exhibit, Nocturnal animals
Photos: Sept 2015
Children Friendly (6): The zoo is fairly large which involves quite a bit of walking, including some hills. For some exhibits viewing areas are at a higher level than small children. There is a Children’s Zoo area but I feel more interactive spots throughout the zoo would make it more children friendly as a whole. Some barriers would be quite easy for a child to cross if parents were not paying attention.
Animal Diversity (10): Quite a large collection of animals representing mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians well. Their species represent many different regions as well. Not only do they have all the major zoo draws but also some species I do not see often.
Animal Viewing (7): There were a couple of exhibits where I was unable to spot the animal, and a couple where it was very difficult to see them. Some exhibits this was due to awkward lines of sight from the viewing windows. I did appreciate having indoor viewing areas for the rhinos, giraffes, and hippos.
Animals Happiness (7): Most exhibits looked well done in terms of natural looking environments with plenty of shade and suitable vegetation. Some however were in need of updating such as the penguin and seal exhibits. Some animals were also seen methodically pacing, the tiger and sun bear most notably.
Photography (6): Although indoor areas provide viewing even when the animal is not on exhibit, they tend to not have the greatest photographic potential. Some outdoor exhibits were a little difficult as well with fencing choices.
Layout/Map (7): The map itself was quite good, very accurate to the layout of the actual zoo with animal icons which were also found throughout the zoo. A clear, colourful map. The layout was very disorganized. It was kind of separated by region, kind of by taxonomy, but not enough of either to make any real sense. The East Gardens especially had a lot of cross pathways making it easy to get disoriented and potentially missing exhibits.
Hours (7): The zoo is closed every Monday which is the main reason its score was reduced. If a holiday lands on the Monday it will be closed the following day, still reducing its open days for that week. Its daily hours are pretty standard, with slightly extended hours during the summer.
Price (10): The price is EXCELLENT. Not only are general admission prices only 600 yen (less than $10 Cdn) but they offer some amazing discounts on top of that for seniors, students aged 13-15, and groups. Children up to the age of 12, junior high students living or studying in Tokyo, and guests with disabilities and their attendant all receive free admission. These awesome rates are also reflected in their membership programs. They also have three set days a year that admission is free for everyone.
Food (6): The restaurant areas were not as frequent or big as expected for the size of the zoo. The menu options were also somewhat limited, offering some standard fast food, children friendly options. The quality of the food was lacking a bit I found. Foreign visitors would also be expecting larger portions considering the price.
Website (8): The website is quite well done, very simply laid out and easy to navigate. I do appreciate that the website gives a short history of the zoo and key features. I think adding more descriptive animal information and pictures would greatly enhance their website. Also news and event information would be appreciated as well.
Gift Shop (7): There were a number of gift shops which was nice but they were rather small and products were a little limited. Having feature animals is common in zoos but I found they focused too much on these and having a bit more variety would serve them well. In terms of types of products offered they had a decent variety, but more options in clothing especially would be nice.
Quiet Areas (8): I visited on a holiday weekend which was quite busy but I feel on a regular day there would be some great options. Even despite the crowds when I was there, there were moments to myself and areas which felt quieter. They also have designated rest areas and benches throughout the zoo.
Safety/Cleanliness (7): As mentioned earlier some barriers were not overly safe, most notably the indoor pygmy hippo exhibits. It would be easy for guests (especially children) to cross into the exhibit and be potentially injured. There are a couple of steeper hills which can cause concerns for strollers or wheelchairs.
Extras (6): One of the great extras I noticed was a portable information system which provides information about the animals and zoo as you make your way through. Available in a couple different languages I think this is an awesome idea which would be great at other zoos as well. There are a number of sculptures and monuments throughout the zoo which add to the zoo.
Overall (7.3): The zoo was enjoyable with a great variety of animals. I would like to return on day when it is not as busy and I can spend more time at the exhibits. Certain displays are in need of updating but considering the price of the zoo you’ll have a good time regardless.