Friday, July 5, 2013

Pandas at Ueno Zoo

In my two years living in Tokyo, I had never visited Ueno Zoo, but was itching to go as they have two pandas and I had never seen one up-close in my whole life. Zoos always make me sad, but I love being around animals and seeing them.

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.


snowfish1121 said...

Oh god, Ueno Zoo. I'll never go back. It depressed me so much the one time I went... the only good thing about it was the gift shop. One of the saddest zoos I've ever seen. It reeeeeally needs updating, with bigger, better animal enclosures.

The Unreliable Narrator said...

I majored in animal psychology and was going to do a Masters in Zoo Design until I realised most zoos exist for profit as opposed to conservation. Ueno Zoo looks questionable at best and I definitely wont be paying a visit!

Melanie said...

I would have to agree with snowfish... it does need updating... HOWEVER, being a bit of a zoo fiend, I really enjoyed Ueno, for 600 yen... it's hard to get a decent afternoon out in Tokyo for 600yen... plus, I was pretty mesmerised by the pandas...

love.heart.boom. said...

Loved your last post about foreign girls dating in Japan (you took it down?!) and I wanted to say that I totally feel you! It can be super tough out here for us foreign girls and I came here with the mindset that Japanese men wouldn't like me - I didn't think I was their type (which is silly to think that all Japanese men have one type of foreign girl they like) - blonde, blue eyes and stick thin - of which I am the total opposite, brown hair, eyes and curvalicious. All it took was two years and a certain guy to change my mind. There are a whole list of reasons why that relationship didn't work out the biggest reason being language and communication, but it did open my eyes to a whole new dating world - The Japanese Man and realizing that there are Japanese guys that will like me! They can be confusing, annoying and frustrating as anything but they can also be like you said really nice, cute (as in they do cute things), sincere and loving. Oh and they can dress pretty well too! Great, great post. I hope you put it back up! xxx

Vivian said...

Thanks!! It's back up, had issues with Blogger! Yup, J guys are the way to go even though not always easy, but they're like any boys.... Hope you're okay xx