Tama Zoo is owned by the Tokyo Government and located in Hino, Tokyo, Japan. Tama Zoo was opened on May 5, 1958, originally as a branch of the Ueno Zoo.
If you are like me and love animals and can see past the stereotype attitude of “Zoos are evil” then you will love Tama Zoo. It must be one of the best Zoo’s I have been to. The enclosures are of large sizes and very open. It is a nice atmosphere for visitors, and I believe the animals are happy. In fact, recently wild animals are coming to Tama Zoo to live in the surrounding forests! The entrance fee is fair, and the season pass is excellent value for money. More on all that later.
I am a professional photographer and my genre is animals. Do I take photos of Zoo animals because its easy? FAR from it!! Zoo animals need love too. I visit there so often that certain animals get excited when they see me, they are happy to see me, and I am happy to see them.
Before, the English version of the website for Tama Zoo was terrible! Now it seems it has been updated so you can get a lot of the information I am telling you from there, but I will tell you real life information as well!
Upon arrival at Tama Zoo, you are greeted by a huge concrete elephant which seems to be where everyone gets their photo taken next to it. I haven’t done that myself, but most people do. You are also greeted by annoying, shouting security people. If you want to block that noise out, wear headphones, they seem to do the trick. You will see there is a few lines which are where you line up to purchase entrance tickets. There is also a line or two for season pass holders. This is of course a very quick way to enter. Usually during the week, it is quiet but if you go on a Saturday or Sunday, be warned… get there EARLY. The line can be quite insane. I notice Thursday seems to be the quietest day; I am not sure why. Also beware of school trip season, which is around late September to Mid-October (ish) thousands of little kids with teachers and photographers with flash going off every minute. It is cute and good to educate, don’t get me wrong, but if you want a peaceful day, avoid the morning time of these dates.
When you eventually get through the ticket gate you are faced with a STEEP hill, it is a good workout I can say! One road goes off to the right and that takes you to the Cheetahs, Lions, as well as other animals. The straight up road takes you to the Orangutans, Snow Leopard etc but you can look at the map. Let me tell you again, the road is steep! There is a shuttle bus that goes around the middle to the left side of the Zoo every ten minutes. It doesn’t go to the right side though!
You will see a few places are under construction. This is a huge pain in the a** but it is for the good of the animals so deal with it. You will see many amenities are available in the zoo which is great as well as restaurants and rest areas. I should let you know that there is NO SMOKING allowed anywhere in the zoo or the entrance grounds. You can take alcohol inside though!
The Orangutans are very popular with visitors. They have a huge area including two outdoor enclosures, one indoor and a skywalk rope thing that goes down to a small forest for them. It is quite amazing I can say and usually starts at 11:30. I enjoy watching them very much. They are very clever.
Tama Zoo are very successful at animal breeding. This is very important especially at the rate mankind is killing off species. Here are a few photos of mine of baby animals
*If you would like to learn Zoo photography, please do visit my photography site
Here are details from Tama Zoo website:
Hours and Days Open
Tama Zoo opens 9:30 to 17:00 (tickets sold until 16:00) and closes every Wednesday (closes Thursday if Wednesday is a public holiday).
*The zoo closes from December 29 through January 1.
Adults (16-64) 600 yen
Seniors (65+) 300 yen (ID needed)
Students (13-15) 200 yen
Children (0-12) Free