We has a great day yesterday at Saitama's Children Zoo. This is one of my all time favorite zoo's, it is so well thought out and designed for maximum enjoyment for kids (and if the kids are happy, the parents are happy!). I have raved about in the past here, here, and here.
We started off at the petting area, they the usual suspects...chicks, rabbits and guinea pigs and they also had a snake. Ebi-kun said he was a bit scared of touching the snake so I encouraged him to try - conquer your fears and all that. He ended up with it round his neck! It was a red corn snake and actually quite cute.
They also have sheep and goats wandering around and enclosures where the animals are wandering around with the visitors. They also have lots of these photo signs for comedy pictures, I dread to think how many we have of these over the years.
The big excitement was the new penguin area, I absolutely love this picture of the two of them eyeing each other up. You can feed the penguins but it is limited to 30 people and as the exhibit only opened the day before and it was mad busy we didn't bother trying, we will go again off season and try and grab a spot for penguin feeding.
All the areas for the animals are well laid out and well designed, they make as much of it as possible hands on. There are lots of lift the flap quizzes and information about the animals presented in a fun way. We sat in the woods to eat out lunch with mara roaming around us, what fun. After lunch we wandered through the dino park, spotted T-rex with a rather stylish art carrier...
Then we headed down to the koalas but before we got there we discovered the old picnic area had been converted into a big athletic area for the kids, so of course we had to try some of it out. Then it was the koalas, sloth, kangaroos and capybara. The kangaroos you actually walk through their enclosure, the same as the penguins and there are 3 or 4 bird enclosures like that too.
Other things that I like about this zoo... the animals all look well cared for, no signs of boredom. There are plenty of small animals as well as the giraffe and zebra. The signs are easy for kids to read and understand. They often had a stamp rally which encourages you to see lots of different animals. It is easy to do the whole zoo in a day. They have plenty of toilets and picnic areas. It is set in the hills so there is quite a bit of walking between areas and some would say this is not a good thing but I think that it is great because when the kids arrive at then next area they are worn out a bit so they can relax and concentrate on the animals not run round screaming like banshees! And finally, it's cheap!
If you live close enough to visit, I can't recommend it high enough. It is only ¥500 for adults, ¥200 for elementary kids and up and ¥600 parking. If you plan on going let me know, it would be fun to meet up.