Monkeys and polar bears and dinosaurs, oh my!

First, an apology. I have been incredibly slack when it comes to writing my blog recently.  I have been meaning to write this post since May 16th, and it’s almost June now. Oops.  My only excuse is an old one: never enough hours in the day…

Anyway, on May 16th, I met my friend from Nagoya in Toyohashi, somewhere part way between Hamamatsu and Nagoya.  Her aunt lives nearby, so she joined us too.  And the reason for a visit to Toyohashi? A trip to the zoo! 😀

I, being a big kid at heart, do love going to the zoo!  Zoos in Japan are pretty much like zoos anywhere but, being Japan, there are always a few curiosities.  Upon arriving at Toyohashi Zoo & Botanical Park (Non Hoi Park) one of the first things I encountered was a classic Japanese photo opportunity.

So, you line up, the kid sits on the horse, mom takes a photo, and then...next! Only in Japan!

“Kids riding horses? That’s not so strange.” you might think.  However, the kid is not actually going to ride the horse. No. The kid is just sitting on the horse so mum can take a photo. And there was a whole line of waiting families behind this one.  I felt kind of sorry for the poor horse!

Next came the petting zoo, where a particularly feisty rabbit decided to nip at my finger.  Again, couldn’t really blame the poor thing as it was being stroked and squeezed left right and centre.

Rabbit love

Scattered around the zoo were random things to keep the kids entertained (as if the animals weren’t enough!), such as this interesting “ヤギのからだ” or, “Goat’s Body”:

Um..?!

I was a little worried about what might be under the flaps…

Generally, the zoo was very nice, and the grounds were vast. It was a relaxing place, with a lot of trees and plants.  But I did have my concerns about some of the animals.  These monkeys appeared to be trying to kill each other:

Fighting monkeys

…as did these polar bears:

Polar bears

Fighting animals sure does draw in the crowds though… Most of the animals seemed fairly content, but some looked very bored, and some seemed to be not in the best of condition. 😦

The botanical garden part of the zoo was very pretty:

Botanical Park

…and it was a really beautiful day.  Another feature of the botanical garden was a Monet-inspired water lily pond:

Kazue, me and Kazue's Aunt

I was particularly proud of this flukey photo:

Lillies

One of my favourite animals in the zoo was this awesome mandrill:

Mandrill

He had so much expression in his face and when I tried to make eye contact with him he kind of grinned at me and totally freaked me out!  Haha!

Just as I was thinking that Toyohashi Zoo was a fairly standard zoo, I saw this:

Dinosaur

Dinosaurs.

Erm… Apparently there was some kind of Natural History Museum in the park, too.  And therefore there was a whole area dedicated to huge plastic dinosaurs.

Were dinosaurs really this colour?!

Were dinosaurs really this colour?!

One final gem in the middle of the zoo, was this strange-looking, concrete observation tower:

Observation Tower

It was a very odd building, but the view was nice:

View from the Observation Tower

When we left the zoo, we went back to 二川 (Futagawa) Station, which is the closest station to the zoo.  On the way, we had ridden in a car so it wasn’t until the way back that I saw the interesting parade of stone animals which line the way between the station and the zoo, making it very easy to find.

Me and a monkey

It was a hotter day than I expected, so I was a bit worn out by the time I got to back to Hamamatsu!  Toyohashi Zoo isn’t really anything to write home about, but if you’re in the area it’s a really nice place to visit.  I haven’t visited Hamamatsu Zoo yet though, so I will have to compare at some point!

My full set of photos can be found here.

Toyohashi Zoo & Botanical Park (Non Hoi Park) is just a short walk away from 二川 (Futagawa) Station, on the JR line between Hamamatsu and Nagoya. It costs just 600Yen for adults to enter.

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