Recently Asahiyama Zoo has displaced Ramen and skiing as Asahikawa's primary draw card, in the process, becoming Japan's number one zoo. The total number of people expected to have visited the zoo by the end of 2007 is in excess of 3 million, an impressive figure when you consider that the population of Asahikawa is a mere 360,000. And, all this form a zoo that just over a decade ago was struggling to stay open.
In 1995, Asahiyama zoo undertook an ambitious redevelopment based on the vision of the new director at that time Masao Kosuge. He and his talented staff formulated enclosure ideas specifically focused on exhibiting the animals' behaviour, not simply the animals themselves.
Asahiyama zoo features more than 800 animals from approximately 150 species, a healthy number when you consider the difficulties associated with maintaining animals during a hot summer and an extremely cold winter.
As can be expected however, people do have their favorites, and the polar bears, penguins, seals, big cats, and orangutans come in for special attention. The enclosures for these animals are designed with both the animal and visitor in mind so you can expect to get closer than you might imagine. The penguin enclosure for example affords a 360 degree view. There is a vertical tank for the spotted seal which prefers to dive and surface vertically. The polar bear enclosure has a variety of built-in viewing areas to allow you special access.
Despite its substantial redevelopment and enormous public interest, the entrance fee to Asahiyama Zoo has remained a fraction of zoo prices in other parts of the world, making Asahiyama Zoo an affordable and fun day out, all year round.