Besides the skyscrapers and other cultural landmarks, Tokyo is home to some of the best zoos in Japan. There are a number of zoos and wildlife parks in Tokyo but Ueno Zoo is the oldest and most visited Zoo in the city. Ueno Zoo was founded in 1822 and since then it has been attracting a large number of visitors not only from Japan but from all over the world. Ueno Zoo is also the only one in Tokyo which is keeping the Giant pandas given to them by China. If you are visiting Tokyo with your kids, Ueno Zoo is a must-see place.
Ueno Zoo is home to more than 400 species and over 3000 animals which is more than any other zoo in Japan. The Zoo is divided into two main parts; the East Garden and the West Garden. The East Garden features a number of animals including giant pandas, elephants, monkeys, tigers, gorillas, seals, Japanese wild goat and many others. There is also a birdhouse located in the East Garden. The West Garden is home to many African animals including hippos, giraffes, rhinos, zebras and aye-ayes. It also features a reptile house where visitors can witness lizards, snakes, crocodiles and other similar species. There is also a small zoo in the West Garden where children can pet the animals.
About the Zoo
Entry: 600 yen (adults: 16-64) | 300 yen (senior citizens: 65+) | 200 yen (children: 13-15) | Free (Children: 0-12 years old)
Opening Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm (tickets are sold until 4 pm)
Best time to visit: Winter Season (December to February) or April (If you want to witness cherry blossom)
Closed: Every Monday, Tuesdays if Monday is a public holiday and from 29th December to 1st January.
Free Entry Day: 20th March (Zoo’s Anniversary Day), 4th May (Greenery Day) and 1st October (Tokyo Citizens’ Day)
How to get there?
Ueno Zoo is easily accessible through public transport from anywhere in Tokyo. You can get off at Ueno Station and from there, its 10-minute walk to the Ueno Zoo.
Things to do for Kids
The Giant Pandas
The first thing to do for the kids is to witness the playful pandas in the zoo. The Ueno Zoo is home to two giant pandas named Shin Shin (female) and Ri Ri (male). The pandas’ home is located right after the main entrance of the zoo. Kids can watch the pandas playing, climbing, eating the bamboos or even napping. Make sure to ask the feeding times of Pandas when you enter the zoo.
Polar Bear Exhibit
There is no shortage of things to do in Ueno Zoo. One of the major highlights of the zoo after giant pandas is its polar bears. In the polar bears home, you can see them strolling around, napping and even playing and swimming in the pool located inside their area.
The Monkey Mountain is the first of its kind in Japan. The mountain is a small enclosure featuring a number of monkeys. Your kids are going to love the sight of cheeky monkeys climbing, eating and playing with each other.
The Petting Zoo is located particularly for kids so that they can enjoy petting a number of animals. The Petting Zoo is home to many animals including goats, llamas, rabbits, sheep, donkeys, guinea pigs and many others who walk around freely in the zoo. Kids can come close to the animals and touch them.
There is a tiny monorail inside the zoo that attracts kids’ attention. The monorail runs from two stations inside the zoo; the East Garden and the West Garden. The one-way trip on this monorail costs 80 yen for the 2 years and older whereas its 150 yen for the high school students and above. It is definitely one of the must-see things to do in the zoo. Your kids are absolutely going to love it.
Tips for parents visiting Tokyo zoo with kids
- Plan your zoo trip with your kids in advance. Talk to them about their interest and what would they like to see the most in zoo.
- Ueno Zoo is one of the largest Zoo of Tokyo. Make sure to get a printed map with you so that you may know which part of the zoo your kids would love to see instead of strolling around for no reason.
- Instead of buying food from restaurants in the zoo, you can bring some healthy food items which your kids can enjoy eating in the park located around the zoo.
- Make your kids wear comfortable shoes in which they can walk with ease.
- You can bring a stroller for your kids to the zoo. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. You can rent one from the zoo.
Ueno Zoo is a kid-friendly zoo and it is definitely worth a visit as you can see a large number of animals at a reasonable price. The only drawback of the zoo is its small enclosures for animals which may seem depressing to watch especially to the foreigners. Many animals can be seen having hard time moving into their little spaces. A lot of them would look bored because of lack of facilities. We sincerely hope that the zoo administration does something about it very soon keeping in mind a large number of tourists visiting the zoo every day and complaining about this particular issue.
Other than the small enclosures, Ueno Zoo is a perfect spot for all the animal lovers. Bring your kids along and enjoy the best time with them in the zoo.