An Osaka Family Favorite! Tennoji Zoo

One of Osaka’s favorite attractions, especially for families, is Tennoji Zoo [天王寺動物園]. Opened in 1915 it is the 3rd oldest zoo in Japan, Tennoji Zoo currently houses 200 kinds of animal on 27 acres of land. This is the 2nd biggest zoo in Japan following Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. Though there are several zoos in Osaka, Tenoji zoo is easily the most popular.

 

Getting to Tennoji Zoo

There are two ways to get to Tennoji Zoo: one is from Tennoji Station and the other is from Tsutenkaku.
The zoo is within walking distance from Tennoji Station. In the station, take the “koen” exit up to the street. Cross the street and head towards a large lawn called Tenshiba. The entrance of the zoo is at the end of Tenshiba

Tennoji Zoo is on the east side of the Tsutenkaku. So feel free to stroll through the various shops and restaurants in the Tsutenkaku until you decide to enter the zoo.

Tennoji Zoo

Japanese cherry blossoms at Tennoji Zoo and Tsutenkaku in background

Tennoji Zoo in the spring

One of the reason why Tennoji Zoo is so popular is that admission is very inexpensive; adults are 500 yen and children are only 200 yen.
The annual pass is only 2,000 yen too!

Tennoji Zoo specializes in “natural exhibits” and strives to create the environment each animals actually live in the wild.

ram standing on top of rock like mass with cherry blossoms in background

Majestic goat is majestic

Some of the more popular animals at the zoo are the big cats, giraffes and the polar bear!

Here are just some of the other amazing animals at Tennoji Zoo!

females lions grooming and a sleeping male in natural enclosure in Tennoji Zoo

Lions!

Tiger in caged enclosure at Tennoji Zoo

Tigers!

black bear in rocky enclosure at Tennoji Zoo

And bears!

Japanese wolf stretching on rock

Oh my, it seems the wolves have a great yoga instructor

Hippopotamus relaxing in pool at Tennoji Zoo

Hippopotamus

three emperor penguins sitting in their enclosure at Tennoji Zoo

Penguins!

Famous Animals

Harukus the Giraffe

male and female giraffes grazing on trees at Tennoji Zoo Abeno Harukus in background

Kouya (left) and Harukus-chan (right)

Tennoji Zoo own a pair of giraffes. The female was donated to the zoo from Abeno Harukus, the large skyscraper next to the Kintetsu station next to the zoo. Quite fittingly, her name is Harukus-chan.

Go-Go Ii-chan the Polar Bear

Ii-chan the polar bear at Tennoji Zoo

Ii-chan

Donated by locally famous Horai 551, Go-Go Ii-chan the polar bear is a crowd favorite. 

wet polar bear with a fish in her mouth

Such a mighty hunter…

She is a real ham, we love going to see her. 

Tennoji Zoo Ii-chan the polar bear

Everyone has their own idea of fun, I guess…

Masahiro, The Lucky Chicken

When you think of famous animals at a zoo, a chicken would probably be that last thing to come to mind. One chicken at Tennoji Zoo, however, has really earned his keep. Originally purchased for food, Masahiro the chicken is one of the most famous animals at the zoo. Masahiro is taken out for walks at intervals throughout the day. Keep an eye out for this special chicken!

white farm chicken on a wooden bench in front of a bush

Masahiro the chicken

The Trials of Masahiro

First the zoo purchased him as from a slaughter house, but the zoo decided to keep him around because he needed to teach the other birds how to peck. 

After that, he was used a bait to lure out a weasel the zoo thought somewhere in the zoo, but it never appeared.

Then they decided that if one of the tigers got sick, Masahiro would become a meal for them. Luckily for Masahiro, the tigers never got sick.  

If all this wasn’t enough, now a number of birds at the zoo have bird flu! We have to hope his luck will hold out once again.

Rani Hiroko: In Memorandum

bronze statue of elephant at Tennoji Zoo

Well miss you, Rani. ;_;

Tennoji’s elephant, Rani Hiroko, came to Japan in 1970 from India. Sadly, on January 25, 2018 she passed away. She was the oldest elephant in Japan, aged at least 47 years old.

Rita and Loyd

statue of rita and loyd at Tennoji Zoo

Rita and Loyd

Another pair of famous animals no longer with us are Rita and Loyd. A beloved attraction prior and during WWII.

Other Exhibits

There are some other pretty fun enclosures for guests to the zoo.

One is the large aviary located near the polar bear exhibit.

Large aviary at Tennoji Zoo

Aviary

Another very popular exhibit is the petting zoo where you can pet and feed small animals such as rabbits, goats and sheep.  

people lined up at the entrance of the petting zoo in Tennoji Zoo

Petting zoo, entrance

long-eared goat on grassy lawn

Long-eared goat. <3

Be sure to visit the nocturnal animal exhibit! The kiwi inside the exhibit is the only one in Japan!

entrance of nocturnal animal house in Tennoji Zoo

Nocturnal Animal House, entrance.

Don’t forget the reptile house!

Tennoji zoo reptile house

Ifar Reptile House

Tennoji Zoo

Address 1-108 Chausuyamacho, Tennoji Ward, Osaka City,
Osaka 〒 543-0063
Website http://www.tenzoo.jp/english/tennnouji.html
Hours of Operation Monday: Closed
Tues-Sun
9:30-17:00
Admission Fee Adults: 500 yen
Children: 200 yen

No matter your age, I think Tennoji Zoo is a really fun way to spend and afternoon. You should give yourself at least an hour to and hour and a half to walk around and really enjoy everything. If you really like animals, you might need longer. There are also a number of events held throughout the year at the zoo, like the Night Zoo, which takes place in the summer. Once you go, it is easy to see why this zoo is so popular!

Coming next time,
The beginning of a journey, The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage

The adventure continues…

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