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The Ueno Zoo was created as an offshoot of The National Nature and Science Museum, also in Ueno Park. The naturalist Tanaka Yoshio, who was in charge of animals for the museum, turned it into a public zoo, which was officially opened on March 20th 1882.

Since then, the zoo has expanded considerably, and now covers an area of 143,000 square meters. It is home to over 3000 animals of more than 400 different species, seen in areas that recreate their natural habitat, so visitors can observe them without visible cages or enclosures.

The zoo is divided into two areas linked by the first monorail to be built in Japan.

In the area just beyond the entrance, you’ll find Asian animals, including Sumatran tigers, Asiatic lions, gibbons, Hokkaido brown bears, Japanese black bears and llamas.

The real stars of the zoo, however, are the two giant pandas, Ri Ri and Shin Shin, brought here from the Wolong Nature Reserve in China in February 2011. You can see them opposite a five-story pagoda which is a reconstruction of the one built in the park in 1631.

In this area of the zoo, you can also visit the Gorilla Woods and the Tiger Forest, where you can get up close to the animals and feed them. You can reach the opposite side of the zoo on foot, or take the monorail. Once you get off, you’ll find numerous African species, such as rhinos, pygmy hippopotamuses, giraffes and zebras, as well as a small mammal house, with bats, armadillos and hedgehogs, and a Reptilarium with Galapagos tortoises, crocodiles, green iguanas and snakes.  

Another area not to be missed is the children’s zoo, where younger visitors can play and enjoy interactive experiences with the animals.


An interesting fact: the names of the giant pandas were changed when they arrived in Japan from China, by means of a referendum among the inhabitants of Tokyo. The male, originally called Billy, was named Ri Ri to emphasize its vitality, while the female’s name of Siennyu was changed to Shin Shin, meaning purity. 


Our visit to the Ueno Park ends here. MyWoWo would like to thank you - see you again at another Wonder of the World!


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