Very close to the hostel we stayed at in Osaka was Tsuutenkaku Tower, from which you can easily see Tennouji Zoo. From the tower I could see that the area was pretty expansive, and also (most importantly) there appeared to be a baby zebra on the premises, running crazy circles around the giraffes like it was full of crazy water.
Having had an affinity for all things cute and horse-like as a child, the existence of this hyperactive baby zebra which I espied from afar firmly settled me in my resolution to walk the Tennouji Zoo grounds in order to meet the said African equine up close. Please do not ask me why I am being so verbose. I just go through phases.
I, with two friends, walked no more than twenty or thirty minutes from the tower and we soon arrived at our goal. It was fairly deserted, although the weather was unusually warm in comparison with previous days, so we were able to meander around to our hearts content.
The hyenas were chill.
Let me start by saying: I suppose there are people who absolutely hate zoos in every way shape and form and refer to them as prisons for animals, etcetera. At the same time it seems that there are many animals that are born in captivity within zoos and have no other means of survival outside them; also zoos do have the capacity to be and often are a great way to educate children and make them aware of the environment. For those reasons I don`t have any moral objection to the existence of zoos, provided that the animals seem to have decent living areas. However, I wasn`t completely taken with Tennouji Zoo. I won`t say I didn`t have a decent and sometimes fun time, but looking at the animals wasn`t completely without its emotional/moral quandaries.
Maybe it was because it was an off-season, and we went early in the day (as we left more people seemed to be coming in), but the further in we walked the Zoo really didn`t seem to be in that great a shape, and near the end I took less pictures, which I'm regretting now. The displays for most of the birds and monkeys seemed lacking. Things looked to be all dust, concrete, and brittle grass. For a zoo open to the elements, I suppose there`s only so much you can do to combat the changing of the seasons, but as we continued looking through the park I began to feel bad for the animals, sitting in what I thought must be an uncomfortable abode. As you can see from the picture above, it's smack in the middle of a neighborhood. I was excited to start exploring but by the end, I was a little tired of it. I only saw one polar bear, and one fox, and wondered if they were lonely.
These guys have company, though.
There was a safari trail for children which was interesting, and a cute gift shop. There was a petting zoo. There was a night exhibit. There were cool statues of various animals which I had fun conversations with. So I wouldn't say that going to Tennouji Zoo was a waste of time, or a complete affront to my senses, but while I did spend a decent time there, it isn't the kind of place I would feel compelled to visit again. I wonder if it's because zoos lose their appeal as you grow older. I wonder if the zoo is better kept and more interesting during the summers, when I suppose they have more traffic (and maybe more revenue to put towards upkeep?).
The rhino was unfortunately not part of the petting zoo, though I tried to duplicate the experience.
The last time I went to a zoo I was much younger. Perhaps I'll change my less-than-thrilled reaction to Tennouji Zoo after visiting another at some point.