Sunday, June 24, 2018

Maruyama Zoo - The Oldest in Hokkaido @ Sapporo [Japan]

In day six of our spectacular Hokkaido trip, we failed to step into Maruyama Zoo; fault of which was mine as i didn't realize it was their every 2-week scheduled closure.

I should have taken the "sign" but Alex appeared extremely keen to visit the zoo (like a kid, if i may add) and i didn't want to disappoint him; hence, the repeat of the above route the next day at maruyama koen subway station.

Now that it's our second time, we knew the exact directions to take yet chose another path that's lined with towering trees on both sides; peaceful and therapeutic for the soul. Click here to read more.

Ticketing counter - 600 yen an adult (worked out to be about S$7.50); affordable in comparison to Singapore Zoo which currently charged S$35 per adult. To be fair to Singapore Zoo, it has 315 species of animals whereas Maruyama Zoo has about 168.

Finally, we were in the oldest zoo in Hokkaido that's built in 1951! Oldest doesn't automatically translate into fame though as the most famous zoo in Hokkaido is the Asahiyama Zoo (Asahikawa).

Artistic installation involving bamboos?

Let's start with our exploration! If you have been following my blog, you would likely have noticed quite a few postings on Maruyama Zoo already and this would be the comprehensive one involving a load more pictures.

I shall keep this short and sweet as we have been to quite a number of overseas zoos (i.e. Taipei Zoo in Taiwan, Dusit Zoo in Bangkok) and it can be pretty boring for an adult when more than 80-90% of the animals are the same.

Like the Steller's Sea Eagles which i recalled seeing at Singapore's Jurong Bird Park and remember being totally impressed with its size; the wingspan exceeds over two meters!

White-tailed Eagle - sorry about the blurred out wires; would have loved to photoshop them away but my skill is not up to standard. :(

Families having heartwarming picnics! Even though we can do the same thing in Singapore, the heat and humidity would put us off and more often than not, we prefer air-conditioned arenas for family get-together.

Children's Zoo - where some animals freely roamed. 
Click here for more photos!

Hungry for food? Not for us as i had way too many desserts at the chocolate lounge in Shiroi Koibito Park and the sugar overdosed would perk me up for quite a while.

Nevertheless, there's a need to share with all of you the expected pricing for a bowl of, let's said, ramen or curry rice since it would be harder for a tourist to prepare for a picnic.

Interesting trees.

Old school benches in the likes of pencils! This kind of design was quite popular when i was a kid! Time flies and just yesterday, my poly mates were just reminiscing about our good, old days.

Alex finally putting his binoculars to some good use! He purchased it like 10 years ago and i can count with one hand; the number of times he brought it out.

Checking the Japanese monkeys enclosure; interesting to note that this species doesn't travel so far north! Check out my posting here for details.

Another dining establishment; nature cafe earth grand and its menu that listed down the calories for each dish! For someone who loves to eat, it's irritating to find calorie-count on a menu!

More primates at the Tropical Monkeys section; specifically highlighting the colourful butt of a mandrill! For more photos, click here.

Green Spot - a fast food outlet for those craving for burgers.

Empty chimpanzee enclosure - well, that's the way with animals right? We can't just force them to appear where we want them to be.

Found one!

Isn't it quite heart wrenching to look into the forlorn eyes of a primate and wondering if they are trying to tell you something? Imagine the actualization of planet of the apes!

Outdoors where a towering metal structure sticks out like a sore thumb.

Built for the chimpanzees; given their intelligence, i wouldn't be surprised if they attempt a prison break by cutting loose the rope and swing out of the enclosure!

Kindergarten / primary school kids on a school vacation! So cute right? I actually don't remember much of my kindergarten days although i did recall participating in a tribal dance.

Hokkaido Sika Deer and Eastern Timber Wolves - side by side?! I know right; it's so cruel to keep prey and predators so close to each other. Imagine the fear (from the prey) and the craving (from the predator) on a daily, 24-hour basis!

Well, just to mention (and i have the picture), the building housing both the deer and wolves was solar-powered. Can't understand much from the wordings but i can infer from the illustrations.

Empty enclosure.

The other one was running with water; albeit of a poor condition too.

Spotted the harbour seal which is said to be "the only seal in Japan that can be seen all year round"! Oh boy, how do they survive the harsh and bitter winter in Hokkaido! Maybe they migrate to the south come wintertime?

Fence wasn't very high and for a curious adult (like me); i did fight against the urge to put my hands out for a chance to touch the seal.

Above sign kind of stopped the thought.

Hokkaido Brown Bear - a subspecies of the Brown Bear. Good news is that they are limited to Hokkaido and the bad news; they are the largest carnivores in Hokkaido.

A VERY helpful map of their sightings over the past few years!

Old polar bear exhibit - old because there's a new one with an underwater tunnel which opened in March 2018. Back when i visited (August 2018), it was still under construction. Do visit the posting here if you are still keen to see how the old exhibit used to look like.

Something disgusting; two crows were pecking on something in one of the empty polar bear sections and it appeared to be the polar bear's poo!

Truthfully, i almost puked; coprophagia is an absolute repulsion.

Tropical birds; a small aviary that just couldn't be compared to the lory loft in Jurong Bird Park! Anyway, this is Hokkaido we are talking about; not Singapore where the temperature doesn't plunge to below 20 degree celcius.

A toucan had free movement around the aviary!

Hill Myna - said to be the "most renowned mimics, perhaps on par only with the grey parrot". For more information on this extraordinary bird, click here.

Six-banded armadillo - it's like a rhino with a rat face!

Ground floor of the aviary; nothing particular that stood out and i didn't see any other free roaming bird except for the big beaked toucan.

Peahens! It's amazing how visually different the peacock and the peahen is and i kid you not, many young kids still think that the peacock is a female.

Ringtailed Coati - i initially thought it's a raccoon with a long nose and i am not wrong actually since it's a member of the raccoon family!

Humboldt Penguins - i think the operator was repairing the roof or something with those metal structures resembling scaffolding.

Oh dear; what happened to the beak?

Quite strange to see the penguins walking on solid, non-snow capped grounds. If you are interested to take part in a penguin parade when you are in Hokkaido, you would have to visit asahiyama zoo which has a 'penguin walk' segment in winter!

Manchurian Crane - identified by the red dot on its head, this is the most endangered crane with just about 2,750 remaining in the wild.

Black-crowned Night Heron - apparently found throughout the world except for the polar regions, i don't think i have seen it before in Singapore. Nevertheless, i am known to be pretty blind to my surroundings in nature.

Grey Heron - it can retract its neck!

Many visitors seemed to be interested in the above enclosure and upon a closer look; i can understand why as even Singapore Zoo has it as a mascot.

The orang utans!

In terms of ranking, orang utan is the most intelligent of all primate species and maybe that's why this particular species was featured prominently in the Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie.

A young and playful orang utan catching Alex's attention.

Food trucks - you can see many of these at the new wing of Northpoint City in Yishun! As the mall is quite close to where i stay, you can find me there almost weekly!

Going through the Reptiles and Amphibians Hall - even though my fear for snakes isn't as bad as before, i still faced the heart in my throat emotion when two snakes were working to escape from their cages!

Hippo & Lion House.

A sleeping spotted hyenas - contrary to popular beliefs, the hyenas often hunt themselves instead of relying on 'leftovers'. Don't you think they look like dogs?

The ever popular king of the jungle; the lion.

A zebra that appeared much shorter than i remember; don't think i have grown taller over the past few years. As far as genetics is concerned, i think i have reached the age of shrinking.

Where's the hippo!?

Literally taking a soak; oh man, sometimes, i hope to be able to submerge myself for extended period of time where my ears are blocked and my heart rate slows.

It's terrible to provide an 'underwater' view that showed nothing but orange murkiness! Could be urine, could be shit, could be both!

Pathway leading to the Alpine Animals enclosures - at this moment, i was already quite tired and it didn't help that the weather was pretty warm!

It's also quite frustrating to have to constantly crank your neck to spot the elusive smaller animals and it's not that i have never seen one before; like the sichuan red panda!

Eventually found one sleeping in one of the enclosures; guess it's air-conditioned.

Oh, an overhead pathway for the red panda. Hm.... wouldn't that be a risk as it's an endangered species and the installation potentially translates into a 'red panda can drop onto your lap' moment?

Nonetheless, a transparent enclosure can show the cute and fluffy side of the red panda!

Asian Black Bear - taking a snooze in the warm summer. Did you notice the long claws?! According to the information panel, the Asian Black Bears are terrific tree climbers!

Back view of the bear.

Eh, and the back view of the kids who were attempting to rock climb in the adjacent rest area. Think we should have more of that in Singapore.

Polar Exhibit and i am not referring to polar bears which have been covered earlier. By polar, i think the zoo means the colder regions.

It included the insanely beautiful snow leopards!

And the prancing Amur Tiger. Also known as the Siberian Tiger, it's the largest of all tiger species and critically endangered with just 450 left in the wild.

Space given to house the Amur Tiger was smaller than the house i am living in and that's pitiful given how much exercise a tiger needs! That's why visiting a zoo can be a really depressing activity.

An ostrich's attempt to pick a pebble!

And Eland which falls under the cow species with a few notable traits; its superior jumping and its ability to contain water like a camel.

Decided to give giraffe a miss as we had already spent close to two hours in the zoo and since it's our last full day in Hokkaido, there were so many other things i wanted to do!

Activities to hold the attention of the kids!

Walking past the kangaroo enclosure; again, we didn't stop as there's a rather large "Australasia" themed zone in the Singapore Zoo that has grey kangaroos, tree kangaroos, wallabies etc.

Out of the zoo and didn't dare to take the taxi as i heard how expensive it can be. Anyway, the point of showing the above pic was to let you have an idea of the temperature; it felt hotter in reality!


Maruyama Zoo, Miyagaoka 3 Banchi 1, Chuo-ku, 
064-0959, Hokkaido, Japan

Nearest Subway Station
Maruyama Koen (Exit 3).
Walk about 15 minutes.

Zoo Map
As above.


Entrance ticket to the zoo applies at 600 yen an adult.


  1. long did you take the cover the zoo?
    Planning to go end of the year and i had included this as a morning trip. 2~3 hours sufficient?

    1. Hi! It took us 2 hours but it might take you longer if you have kids and are having lunch in the zoo. Enjoy the trip!


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