Zoorasia: A Friendly Yokohama Zoo
There are many zoo's in greater Tokyo area, but very few are like Zoorasia.
This zoo is in Yokohama ward, and is more than just a zoo; it also resembles a safari park. Fortunately for the animals, cages are really big and fences are as little as possible as to get the animals to live in an environment that is parallel to their native one.
(Elephants roaming freely in their space)
The park features a lot of animals, really, all grouped based on which of the eight different areas of the world they are from: Asian Tropical Forest, Subarctic Forest, Oceanian Grassland, Central Asian Highland, Japanese Countryside, Amazon Jungle, African Tropical Rain Forest and African Savanna. So, there is space for giraffes, lions, penguins, kangaroos, Japanese monkeys, Sumatran tigers, elephants, tapirs, and, the animal that was one of the weirdest, the okapi. Okapis were once the novelty of the zoo, and I guess they still are as these animals are rare. They are described as having a head of a giraffe, a body of a horse and legs of a zebra...they are funny indeed, and seem not to mind people photographing them.
(Kangaroo from Australia)
tinypretorius on Flickr
(A penguin swimming in its cold pool)
きうこ on Flickr
Visitors can learn about all the animal species from well described plates near each of the cages, and the zoo even organizes events where people can learn even more, or pet some goats, or watch the lions in a night safari, see a bird show, and many other interesting activities depending on season and time. There is also the possibility to ride a camel!
The zoo area is definitely huge, and the animals to see are many, so it is better to get to the zoo reasonably early in order to be able to visit all areas, especially the new savannah area which is located at the furthermost corner of the park. The walking trails are also designed for families with children, so that baby strollers can be pushed easily. In any case, instead of walking, there is a bus (with the front part pimped to look like the face of some animal) that can take visitors around. It could be a great option if the day is hot and sunny, as some parts of the zoo provide little shade.
In addition to many, very many animals to observe, there are also several playgrounds for children, who can experience the thrill of climbing a real-sized dinosaur skeleton! They will definitely love this park, and I think also adults will enjoy a day there too, as I did!
(One of the playgrounds for kids)
Zoorasia is reachable from Nakyama Station on the JR Yamanote line by a 15 minute ride bus, stop is Yokohama zoo (よこはま動物えん).