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A Complete Guide to Highlights at Osaka Tennoji Zoo - and Why the Zoo is Popular with Foreign Tourists

A Complete Guide to Highlights at Osaka Tennoji Zoo - and Why the Zoo is Popular with Foreign Tourists

Date published: 30 August 2019
Last updated: 15 January 2021

Tennoji Zoo is a long-established zoo, open now for over 100 years. Over 180 species of animals in total live on the spacious zoo grounds. Bringing many people to visit the zoo from all over Japan and the world are the zoo's famed ecological exhibits, which showcase animals living in habitats similar to their native environments. With Tsutenkaku Tower and the Abeno Harukas skyscraper within walking distance, the zoo also has a fantastic location. Don't miss visiting this oasis of Osaka.

Table of Contents
  1. This time-honored zoo was founded over 100 years ago
  2. What are the three most popular animals among foreign visitors?
  3. There are many other popular animals to see
  4. If you're here with kids, don’t miss the Friendship Square petting zoo!
  5. The "Night Zoo", where you can see animals at night, is also a favorite
  6. What special services are available for foreign visitors?

This time-honored zoo was founded over 100 years ago

This time-honored zoo was founded over 100 years ago

The Tennoji Zoo, occupying its vast grounds in downtown Osaka, was opened in 1915. Over 100 years ago, the entire space hosted a large exhibition hall, and after that closed, the space was maintained as a large leisure area, filled by a succession of parks, amusement parks, and zoos. Adopting on the elephants, lions, and tapirs in the miniature zoo there, the zoo's precursor, the "Osaka Prefectural Museum" in Honmachi, moved to the current location, and opened for business. It is said that, around the time of the zoo's 20th anniversary, it was known as the best zoo in all of the East.

This is a photograph of the zoo from around 90 years ago. Women in kimonos are feeding birds in the aviary.

What are the three most popular animals among foreign visitors?

What are the three most popular animals among foreign visitors?

Here are three noteworthy animals you'll want to make sure you see when you visit the zoo. Overwhelmingly popular among foreign visitors are the polar bears. There is one male, Gogo, and one female, Icchan. Both were born in Russian zoos and donated by 551 Horai, a famous meat bun company. Everyone falls in love watching the adorable polar bears play with toys and leap into their pool.

The next popular animal among foreign tourists is the Amur (Siberian) tiger. Two tigers, Senichi and Kojiro, live at Tennoji Zoo. Amur tigers are the largest of all species of tigers. The way they can roar ferociously at one moment and then act like cuddly kittens the next is part of their appeal.

The lions are also popular with foreign visitors. The three lions, a male named Gaou, and two females, named Luna and Monaka, live in the "African Savanna Zone" ecological exhibit. In this zone, outfitted with rocky crags and grasslands just like the real Savanna, you can see several other species of animal along with the lions, such as zebras, rhinoceroses, and giraffes.

There are many other popular animals to see

There are many other popular animals to see

Another recommended exhibit is the Hippopotamus House. Three hippos live at the zoo, Tetsuo, Gen-chan, and Tina. As seen in the photo, if you visit at the right time, you can see the hippos' powerful displays in the water. We recommend checking information signs throughout the zoo or the website so you can visit during the animals' snack or mealtimes and see a lively show.

The endearing faces of the red pandas are also a must-see. You'll be eager to see the zoo's three red pandas, Sakuya, Shuna, and Mel. If you visit during their snack or mealtimes, you might catch a glimpse of them eating up in the trees or eating standing up.

If you're here with kids, don’t miss the Friendship Square petting zoo!

If you're here with kids, don’t miss the Friendship Square petting zoo!

The Friendship Square, a petting zoo where you can directly interact with different animals, is highly popular among families visiting with small children. In addition to getting up close and personal with rabbits, guinea pigs, emus, camels, and small Noma horses, you can even try feeding the sheep and goats (100 yen, tax included). The most popular animals, the guinea pigs, can only be pet during specific times, so be sure to check the times when you visit.

The "Night Zoo", where you can see animals at night, is also a favorite

The "Night Zoo", where you can see animals at night, is also a favorite

For guests who want more than the regular zoo sightseeing experience, try visiting the "Night Zoo" event held only for limited times in the spring, summer, and fall. (Refer to the zoo's official website for dates.) Normally the zoo is open until 5:00 p.m., but on these specific days, you can enjoy the zoo even after dark. There's no need to make a reservation, and you're free to come and go all day on a single ticket, so after enjoying the zoo during the daytime, you can eat some kushi-katsu at the “Shinsekai” gate and come back to visit the zoo at nighttime. As for the main highlights, naturally the "African Savanna Zone" is a hit. The wild atmosphere, a slightly different mood from the daytime, will make you nearly forget you're in the middle of Osaka.

What special services are available for foreign visitors?

What special services are available for foreign visitors?

At each of the two park gates, "Shinsekai" and "Tenshiba", employees who can speak English, Chinese, and Korean are always on stand-by. If you have any questions going in, it's a good idea to ask at the entrance. Information brochures are also available in the same three languages. Some signs inside the zoo are written only in Japanese, so make sure you bring along a brochure from the entrance. (Pictured is the Shinsekai Gate.)
※All photographs provided by Tennoji Zoo

  • Osaka Tennoji Zoo
    天王寺動物園
    • Address 1-108 Chausuyamacho, Tennoji-ku, Osaka City, Osaka
    • Phone Number 06-6771-8401
    • Operating hours: 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (entry until 4:00 p.m.)
      Entrance fee: 500 yen
      Closed: Monday (in case of overlap with a national holiday, the zoo will be open that Monday and closed the following day instead)

Text by:Bikoo-System

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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