Morioka City Zoological Park is located in the mountains of Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, south of Misawa. The zoo is home to over 700 animals and nearly 100 different species, some indigenous to Japan such as Okinawan sheep, Japanese black bears, tanuki (raccoon dogs) and monkeys. There are also animals from many different regions of the world including the Canadian otter, bighorn sheep and pumas, gifted to Morioka from Victoria City, Canada. Alpacas, African elephants, bison, giraffes, zebras and lions all share a home in Morioka. The zoo also offers nocturnal and avian varieties to visit, including golden eagles and the snowy owl.
The tanuki look similar to raccoons but are a part of the canine family. Their personalities are playful and mischievous, much like the raccoon. There are many folklore and legends based upon the tanuki in certain areas of Japan. Sometimes the critters are even given names and treated as special beings who are capable of shapeshifting to human form. It is said that they do so during the spring months and sing songs.
The snowy owl is native to arctic regions in North America, Europe and Asia. The stunning bird is white and black in coloring, with amber eyes. The snowy owl is accustomed to tundra and unlike other birds, chooses to make its home in large clearings, building a mound-type nest on the ground, no matter how cold or hard the earth may be.
Along with wildlife, Morioka is filled with a variety of foliage. Break from the path and venture onto the hiking trails nestled in the many trees that surround the park. Grab a bite to eat and picnic on the grass under a temple with your family. Along with a variety of interesting and adorable animals to visit, the park offers facilities for zoo-goers to enjoy including the African Garden Rest House, where dishes such as curry, miso soup and ramen are served as well as french fries and other various snacks. A drink bar is also featured and a delight on hot days. Take a souvenir home as well—hats, bags and t-shirts are for sale as tokens of time well spent in Japan.
Morioka Zoo offers various opportunities for children to interact with, feed and pet animals while breeders share knowledge about the uniqueness of each animal and the care that they require. The zoo also offers special bookings for birthday parties so that children can have their very own birthday zoo day!
Morioka Zoo is set in a beautiful location with a variety of animals and a caring staff. The park is open year-round, save Wednesdays and holidays. Visit moriokazoo.org for more information.