Ueno Zoo has two pandas that were loaned from China, Shin Shin and Ri Ri (a female and a male). Last year Shin Shin gave birth to a cub, but he died a few days after from pneumonia. That story made me especially sad, but I hope she gets pregnant again soon. Shin Shin was removed from public viewing last month because they thought she was pregnant, but turns out she only got fat. Both pandas were on display when we visited today, and I was surprised at the size (Ri Ri was huge but Shin Shin smaller than I thought), and their fur seemed a bit dirty (was it from the mud?). Both were in separate rooms, and Shin Shin was nervously circling her space, going back out then in again, while Ri Ri was slouched over a wooden structure, tongue out from the heat. They're beautiful creatures, but I wonder if they're happy. I was disappointed to see the space they were in. I think it's not big enough, and doesn't resemble nature at all. Why can't Ueno Zoo provide a better, more natural space for them? As happy as I was to view the pandas, I left with a heavy heart.
The zoo has a good fleet of animals, like sea lions, a lonely polar bear, tiger, gorilla, and monkeys. It was fun watching the sea lions fight, but the tiger and gorilla were either hiding or on holiday somewhere out of Tokyo. Ueno Zoo is quite large, and a bit old-school with its monorail and decals that seem right out of the seventies. It's a good place to hit in Tokyo for an afternoon I think, as it's exciting to think there are pandas, tigers and elephants in the middle of the city.
The zoo only costs ¥600, and you can buy a yearly pass for ¥2,400. I'm not sure I'll go again, but I might want to see the pandas one more time.
Warning: Panda-heavy photos
|Hi, Shin Shin|
|Back view of Ri Ri|
|Shin Shin was circling around rather quickly|
|Blurry panda close-up|
|Thoughtful Ri Ri- bet he'd rather be in China|
|Channeling my best panda pose|
|Sea lions were fighting. What a life.|
|Lone polar bear, Japan's too hot for him.|
|He belongs in Canada!!|
|Wish I were a sea lion.|