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旭山動物園Asahiyama Zoo

Asahiyama Zoo. Photo: Yoppy

Photo: Yoppy / CC BY 2.0

Asahiyama Zoo isn’t one of the most popular zoos in Japan without a reason. Located in the northernmost region of Japan, amidst the beautiful, remote setting of Asahikawa, Asahiyama Zoo is unique for its concept旭山動物園は、日本で最も有名な動物園のひとつだろう。日本最北の動物園であり、札幌から遠く離れた旭川市にある。旭山動物園は、動物の姿を見せることを優先した形態展示が主流だった日本で、動物の自然な姿を見せる行動展示を行ったことで人気となった。また、夏期と冬期で展示する動物が変わることもユニーク。来園者数も増加し、国内外から多くの観光客が訪れている。

特に人気なのは、オールシーズン見られるアザラシとホッキョクグマの行動展示。見やすいガラスパネルで、来園者は近い距離で動物の変化や動きを観察することができる。
「あざらし館」の館内は「マリンウェイ(円柱水槽)」が特徴的(写真)で、アザラシの泳ぐ姿を間近に様々な角度から観察することができる。

「あざらし館」の近くには、同じ北極の「ほっきょくぐま館」がある。ほっきょくぐま館では大きなプールにダイナミックに水音を立てて飛び込むホッキョクグマが人気。泳いでいる時の毛並み、強い手足の動きを観察することができ、ホッキョクグマの堂々とした強さと穏やかさを感じられる。陸上では「シールズアイ(カプセル)」から来園者が顔を出して、アザラシと同じ目線でホッキョクグマを見られる。

旭山動物園は北海道の動物園として、北海道特有の種の動物の展示も特徴的。2009年に完成した「エゾシカの森」は、意図的に「オオカミの森」と隣接してつくられ、オオカミとエゾシカが共存していた昔の北海道の自然を再現している。エゾシカの森には、旭川近郊にある層雲峡の柱状節理を模した高さ6mの築山があり、素早く頂上に登るエゾシカの姿を観察できる。

他にオールシーズン見ることのできるおすすめの展示は、水中を360度見渡せるガラスのトンネルからペンギンが飛んでいるように泳ぐ様子を観察できる「ぺんぎん館」。もぐもぐタイムでは飼育員が水中に潜ってエサをやる光景を見られる。冬は来園者の目の前を行進するキングペンギンがとても可愛らしい。 しかし、空を飛んでいる鳥のファンであるならば、水鳥本来の姿を観察することができる「ととりの村」をチェックしてほしい。

夏期におすすめなのは、屋外飼育場にある高さ16mの鉄柱でチンパンジーが自由に遊べる「スカイブリッジ」のある「チンパンジーの森」。様々な遊具やロープ使って生活している姿が観察できる。5月から7月は「キジ舎」で繁殖期を迎えるインドクジャクが最も魅力的となる。メスをひきつけるために広げられる雄のカラフルな目玉模様の羽が特徴的。

園内には、元飼育員であり現在絵本作家のあべ弘士の描いた動物たちの壁画が多く見られ、旭山動物園のオフィシャルグッズも一部デザインしている。また、札幌と旭川間を走るJR「旭山動物園号」では、車両ごとに「ホッキョクグマ号」「ライオン号」など動物の名が付き、外観、内装共にあべ弘士の動物たちでいっぱいだ。本数は限られているが、札幌からの長い移動時間も楽く過ごすことができておすすめだ。

旭山動物園
住所:北海道旭川市東旭川町倉沼
開園時間:夏期 9:30〜17:15(入園は16:15まで)
     冬期10:30〜15:30(入園は15:00まで)
入園料:800円
TEL:0166-36-1104
http://www5.city.asahikawa.hokkaido.jp/asahiyamazoo/

Text: Bonnie Oeni
Translation: Asami Miyamura
for opening up its zoo exhibits according to the changing seasons. With a large collection of 134 types of animals from both tropical and temperate regions, animals featured in the summer may differ from those featured in the winter. This concept has proved successful – with close to 1.9 million visitors visiting the zoo in 2009, this is one of the most visited zoos in Japan.

All season, the zoo is perhaps best known for its seal and polar bear exhibits, because the animals are housed in a free environment unrestricted by cages. Visitors also get to see the movements and behaviour of the animals up close, through wide glass panels that offer a generous view. The outer grounds of the seal exhibit, with its tiny floating boats, resemble the fishing harbours of Hokkaido, while the inner grounds feature a cylindrical glass conduit through which the seal swims. The cylindrical shape offers excellent multiple angle views of the seal swimming, as well as close up views of the finest details on its body.

Close to the seal exhibition, you’ll find a familiar face from the same icy region, the polar bear. With a big pool available in the polar bear enclosure and a glass viewing gallery, you’ll be able to witness the mighty polar bear dive in with a spectacular splash, its fur rippling smoothly through the water with a gleam, its strong paws paddling vigorously. In watching it, you’ll feel awed by the gentle strength and majestic power that the largest bear in the world truly contains.

Since Asahiyama Zoo is located in Hokkaido, the zoo also features animal species unique to Hokkaido. The outdoor Hokkaido deer exhibit, recently opened in 2009, is deliberately located next to the wolf exhibit. The idea behind the layout of the exhibit was to realistically recreate the environment of old, native Hokkaido, in which the Hokkaido deer faced peril from all sides, from predatorial wolves and other harmful animals. An artificial hill, standing 6m tall, was also constructed for the Hokkaido deer to climb, showing off its powerful legs, speed and skill in climbing. In the zoo’s attempt to be authentic, the hill is supposed to mimic the dramatic cliffs of Sounkyo Gorge near Asahikawa. This exhibit is also open all year round.

Other all-season highlights include the penguin exhibit, constructed such that you are surrounded by a glass tunnel from all sides, where you can freely observe the graceful swimming forms of penguins from any angle. During daily feeding times, you’ll be treated to an exciting spectacle in which a zookeeper dives into the glass enclosure to feed the penguins. Winter specials also include an immensely cute penguin march over the ice! But if you’re a fan of watching birds in flight instead, check out ‘Totori no Mura’, an exhibit which enables visitors to see various birds powering through the air each and every way.

Summer-only highlights include visiting the Chimpanzee Forest, an outdoor enclosure where a 16m metal pole has been erected for the chimpanzees to climb up and swing freely from. Various toys are also available for them to play with, and watching them in action will delight both children and the young-at-heart. During the period of May – July, you can also check out male Indian blue peacocks at their most attractive. During this designated breeding season, male peacocks try their best to attract female peahen by proudly showing off a vivid, brilliant display of colourful feathers, featuring up to 150 peacock feather eyes in total. As this dazzling plumage is only available during breeding season, this is a sight you should not miss in summer.

Asahiyama Zoo
Address: Higashi Asahikawa-cho, Kuranuma, Asahikawa, Hokkaido
Open: Summer season 9:30-17:15 (Ticket sales until 16:15)
    Winter season 10:30-15:30 (Ticket sales until 15:00)
Entrance fee: 800 yen
Tel: 0166-36-1104
http://www5.city.asahikawa.hokkaido.jp/asahiyamazoo/

Text: Bonnie Oeni
旭山动物园
地址:北海道旭川市東旭川町倉沼
开放时间:夏天 9:30-17:15(到16:15入口)
     冬天10:30-15:30(到15:00入口)
承认:800円
电话:0166-36-1104
http://www5.city.asahikawa.hokkaido.jp/asahiyamazoo/

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