Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
Early this month, before winter in Japan became too chilly, we brought the kids to Saitama’s Children Zoo (埼玉県こども動物自然公園). Though we know for sure that they will have a good time, Mummy has her own personal agenda for going there. She wanted to meet the Onsen-loving Capybaras. Giant rodents soaking in hot spring!
The Saitama Children’s Zoo is pretty good for a local zoo. It keeps about 230 species of living creatures, with their enclosures nestled in a tranquil and scenic vast hill. Walking around the zoo is like hiking in nature.There is also a nice long boardwalk in the Deer & Serow Valley, for the visitors who love trekking. We couldn’t spot any deers (they must be well camouflaged), but we saw two Japanese goats resting at the end of the path.One animal enclosure that we find interesting, belongs to the Prairie Dogs. They have tunnels with plastic casing for visitors to “pop” their head in to see the cute rodents up-close.
Have you ever wonder how does an armadillo walks? I managed to catch one in action. The cute (and seemingly hyper) fellow had been walking briskly around his enclosure non-stop. He caught a lot of attention from the visitors.
The Petting Area in the zoo is a great place for children to interact with domesticated animals. The kids were taught by zoo-keepers on how to hold guinea pigs, rabbits, chicks, and even snakes. Well-behaved animals play host to zealous visitors, as they were subjected to endless cuddling. Oh, one highlight of the petting zoo that we missed out was the Morumotto Bridge that features guinea pigs crossing a long runway. Here is a video on it by piropironikoniko. The Zoo has a milking area that allows children to milk cows under the supervision of the staffs, three times a day. On every second Sunday, the zoo also provides butter making lesson for a fee of 200 yen. There is a Pony & Horse riding area. Fireball, my four-year-old, never rode a pony before. So we bought him a ticket to try (200 yen). He was excited at first, but chickened-out when he was near the peaceful creature. Mummy (again with her hidden agenda) excitedly seized the opportunity and asked the staffs if she could exchange the ticket and upgrade it to a horse-riding ticket (300 yen) for adults. The staffs were so nice, they let her. Yippee! :D
There is the Pegasus Tower that one can climb up and get a bird-eye view of the zoo. There is a Jyabujyabu Pond, which is a wet play area for children to have a splashing time in warmer seasons. The SAI-Popo tram rides are available (200 yen /per ride). The more economical 1-day pass (300 Yen) are only available on weekdays.
This is a great place for the children (in primary and secondary school) to train their athletic skills. (There is a playground nearby for smaller children). Most of the structures were difficult for Fireball. With his father’s help, he enjoyed himself tremendously.
Children has free access to the castle, but each adult that accompany them will have to pay 100 yen. There is a talking tree, numerous exhibitions, children movie theatre with free screenings, library etc. Honestly, unless you have a baby or toddler who needs the diaper changing facilities or padded area to play, I think you can spend your time better elsewhere.
Near the Children’s Castle, there is a secluded park with few dinosaur statues.
Curiously, there is a mini World of Peter Rabbit (PR) located in the zoo! There is Beatrix Potter Reference Library, which I was not able to get in in time. Near the building, is a PR-themed playground with live animals (e.g owls, robins, ducks & squirrels). There is also a gift shop featuring only PR goodies.
9:30 am to 5:00 pm
(Except during Nov 15 to Feb 10, the Zoo closes at 4:30 pm)
Please check the official website for closing dates.
Adult: 510 yen
Elementary/Junior High School Children: 210 yen
Children before Elementary School: Free
600 yen per day
See access to Saitama Children’s Zoo here (in Japanese).
It is really amazing that a small local zoo can offer so much fun. A great place for a family outing trip. We had a really tremendous day!