When thinking of Hokkaido and animals the first place that would probably come to mind is Asahiyama Zoo, which is famous for its glass tunnels and penguin walks. When thinking of Hokkaido and animals, I’ve always told myself that I would go to Asahiyama Zoo to see the animals behind those tunnels. But when in Sapporo, Asahiyama Zoo is at least 3 hours away by train whereas Maruyama Zoo was just a short, morning walk through quiet woodland.
Maruyama Zoo does not have the glass tunnels of Asahiyama Zoo but it has a lot of cages and enclosures for its 820 species of animals. I liked that even though there was mostly only one animal in each cage, this allowed them to have enough space to move or stretch or jump around if their limbs allowed them to.
When I was there, the Waku Waku Asia Zone was just added to the Zoo and it was divided into “Tropical Rainforest”, “Alpine Animals”, and “Polar Exhibit”. My favorites were the red panda in “Alpine Animals” and the hard-to-spot snow leopard in the “Polar Exhibit”.
Since it was my first time at a zoo and I’m interested in animals, I couldn’t help but be impressed with every animal from the Shetland ponies in the petting zoo to the gigantic orangutan that looked equally majestic and threatening. I even felt excited when I got to see the most poisonous snake in Japan.
I don’t know how Maruyama Zoo compares to Asahiyama Zoo but I was happy to see primates, bears, and birds that looked well taken care of and kept within clean enclosures. There were times when I felt sorry, but as a place built to admire animals up close, I think Maruyama Zoo deserves recognition when one thinks of animals and Hokkaido.
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (February – October)
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (November – January)
Adult – 600 YEN
Children (Junior High Schools and Under) – FREE!
From Sapporo Station, take a train or walk for 15 minutes to Odori Station.
Take a train at Odori Station to Maruyama Koen Subway Station, and walk for 15 minutes.