Location: Osaka, Japan
Highlights: Lion exhibit, Sea lions
Photos: Nov 2015
Children Friendly (6): The zoo isn’t overly large so children should be able to walk most of it. They don’t have a whole lot of extras in terms of entertaining like play areas, rides, or shows/demonstrations. There are some small aspects of each but not enough to entertain a lot of kids or for very long. Some exhibits are also not the most convenient for little ones to see into.
Animal Diversity (6): The diversity of the zoo isn’t too bad in terms of representing across mammals, birds, reptiles, etc. but it isn’t that large of a zoo in general. They have your basic high profile zoo animals (elephant, giraffe, lion, etc) but lesser known animals will not be well represented.
Animal Viewing (5): It seemed about a third of the animals were off display when we were there. Many of the animals had quite a bit of their enclosure which made them well hidden from view as well. One big issue I have is quite a few of their animals are taken off display 30mins-1hr before closing. Close earlier or leave the animals out later, there is no reason to be open with half the zoo away for the night.
Animals Happiness (5): Tennoji Zoo is the third oldest zoo in Japan and it definitely shows in this case. The exhibits are not very large and quite a few are clearly still in the pit style. It looks like they have done some updates such as the elephant exhibit but they have a very long way to go. More enrichment and natural flora in the exhibits would be beneficial for both the animals and the visitors.
Photography (6): Photography in the open pit style exhibits was decent in terms of getting good lines of sight of the animals and fairly close proximity. Many exhibits did have viewing from different angles and/or levels which was appreciated. The glass was desperately in need of cleaning at most of the exhibits both inside and out!
Layout/Map (6): The map was great; it was very accurate to the zoo itself and showed where animals and other facilities were nicely. That’s about all it had going for it in their category. The layout was all over the place it looks like they half tried to sort by species and half by region…meaning it hasn’t ended up being categorized at all. This wouldn’t be as bad if the pathways between exhibits were better planned. It would be very easy to skip exhibits or entire portions of the zoo here and some backtracking has to be done to see everything.
Hours (6): Hours are the general 9:30-5 every day which isn’t awful but I feel they could open a little earlier. Having the animals coming off display before 5 definitely cuts it short as well. They are closed every Monday which is where they largely lost points here.
Price (10): Extremely cheap! 500 yen for anyone about 16 years old; anyone under 16, over 65, or handicapped are free of charge.
Food (5): The food locations were not the biggest at the zoo. It seems to be a trend here in Japan of having more small (independent?) stalls selling food than actual sit down restaurants. They did not have a wide variety of food options or ones with the greatest quality. I would recommend going to one of the many restaurants in Tennoji park instead!
Website (6): The website is pretty mediocre. The English version gives you the bare minimum of information on the zoo – hours, price, map, directions and not much else. The Japanese version from what I can tell doesn’t open up a whole lot further either. It’s not a bad website, it looks okay, but if you’re wanting a lot of information or updates and things it is lacking a bit.
Gift Shop (6): There are a couple smaller gift shops throughout the zoo which carried a variety of products. There wasn’t anything exceptional about them. Most of the souvenirs were not of the highest quality but they did represent a large number of their animals. Some higher quality products and a range of gifts for adults would go over well for them.
Quiet Areas (8): With the randomness of their layout came lots of quiet areas and places to regroup. Multiple pathways to and from exhibits made areas feel not quite as crowded and allowed for some smaller pathways to be places to step aside. There were also a number of benches throughout. Designated rest areas are labelled on the map as well.
Safety/Cleanliness (6): The zoo was decently clean besides the glass on some exhibits. Some bridges and features in the zoo could do with a power wash or scrub though. In terms of safety some exhibits had signs up stating to not put hands through the fence but there was virtually no supervision seen throughout the zoo during our visit. They also have statues for photo opportunities which we witnessed many children climbing on (these statues are not small)!
Extras (5): Through their website they have podcasts and newsletters which are great resources. It does appear they have an events page on their Japanese site but not much is listed. Having more programming and educational activities would be a huge asset to the zoo and the guests.
Overall (6.1): The third oldest zoo in Osaka and unfortunately it showed. The exhibits are definitely in need of some updating with enrichment and more natural environments. If it’s a quick visit to see some popular animals then it’ll suit you but it isn’t the highest quality zoo.