Maruyama Zoo: History, Attractions, Prices, and Access Information

When it comes to zoos in Sapporo, it’s “Maruyama Zoo”. Maruyama Zoo is not only popular among Sapporo locals but also considered one of Sapporo’s tourist attractions. As a zoo in Hokkaido, it’s known for being enjoyable even in winter. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of Maruyama Zoo, its initiatives, information about the animals you can see there, and details about events held at the zoo.

Basics of Maruyama Zoo

Maruyama Zoo opened its gates on May 5th, 1951, during Children’s Day, becoming the 10th zoo in Japan and the first in Hokkaido. Interestingly, Maruyama Zoo’s origin traces back to Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo, which brought a mobile zoo to Sapporo in 1950. Back then, Sapporo lacked its own zoo, so the mobile zoo from Tokyo was a huge hit. This sparked a demand from the locals for a permanent zoo, leading to the birth of Maruyama Zoo.

The History of Maruyama Zoo’s Opening

Originally known as “Maruyama Children’s Playground,” Maruyama Zoo began its journey not solely as a zoo but as a playground for children. It started with just three species—brown bears, Hokkaido deer, and Steller’s sea eagles—with a total of four animals, including two brown bears. Among these, the Steller’s sea eagle named “Barsan” became an iconic resident of Maruyama Zoo, setting a world record for the longest captivity period for this species. In September 1950, the name changed from “Maruyama Children’s Playground” to “Maruyama Zoo.” By its third year of operation in July 1953, the zoo welcomed Hanako, an Asian elephant, marking a significant expansion in its animal collection and scale of operation. In 1974, Maruyama Zoo broke records with over 1.24 million annual visitors, surpassing the population of Sapporo at that time, which was around 1.2 million. This underscores its immense popularity as a beloved attraction in the city.

Maruyama Zoo in Recent Years: Achievements and Excellence

When Maruyama Zoo first opened, it only housed four animals from three species. However, it has since expanded its collection to include 914 animals from 167 species as of June 2017. In recent years, Maruyama Zoo has faced challenges such as animal fatalities and declining visitor numbers, casting a shadow over its reputation. Despite these challenges, Maruyama Zoo has a remarkable history of achievements. While Asahiyama Zoo in Hokkaido is widely known nationwide, Maruyama Zoo has also made significant contributions by saving endangered species from extinction.

Understanding Endangered Species: What You Need to Know

Are you familiar with the term “Red List”? The Red List is a compilation by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), categorizing and ranking animals that are at risk of extinction. Species listed as “Extinct (EX)” at the top of the list have already gone extinct, while those listed lower face increasing threats of extinction as you move up the list.

【Categories and Abbreviations of the Red List】

  • Extinct Species (EX: Extinct)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW: Extinct in the Wild)
  • Threatened Species   
    • Critically Endangered (CR: Critically Endangered)   
    • Endangered Species (EN: Endangered)   
    • Vulnerable Species (VU: Vulnerable)
  • Lower Risk Species   
    • Near Threatened (NT: Near Threatened)   
    • Least Concern (LC: Least Concern)
  • ◎ Data Deficient Species (DD: Data Deficient)

Important Information: CITES Appendices in Zoos

Animals facing the threat of extinction are listed on the “Red List” and are protected even in the wild. On the other hand, the “Washington Convention Appendices” designate animals and plants subject to “regulation” in international trade. Some animals and plants are traded internationally at high prices to be kept as “pets.” Additionally, items like fur, ivory, claws, teeth, bones, and taxidermy are used for purposes other than as pets, such as for coats or ivory. Because these activities can lead to the extinction of species, the Washington Convention Appendices categorize species into three levels to regulate international trade.

Animals listed in the Washington Convention Appendices are subject to varying levels of import and export restrictions and regulations based on their level. The strictest level is “Appendix I,” where commercial import and export are prohibited, and trade is only allowed for “scientific purposes,” such as in zoos. Following Appendix I, species listed in Appendix II and III can be commercially imported and exported with government permits, but they are still considered to be at risk of extinction.

What You Should Know Before Visiting: Maruyama Zoo’s Initiatives

Now, let’s take a look at the achievements Maruyama Zoo has built upon, considering the information regarding the “Red List” and the “Washington Convention Appendices” mentioned above.

Breeding of Polar Bears

The polar bears at Maruyama Zoo are not just animals on display—they’re also the symbol of the zoo, featuring on official merchandise. However, in the wild, polar bears are facing extinction. One of the reasons behind their endangered status is the difficulty in breeding. Even in the wild, polar bears have low breeding success rates, and their numbers are dwindling due to habitat destruction.

But the pair of polar bears at Maruyama Zoo, Denali (the male) and Lala (the female), have a great relationship. Breeding polar bears in captivity is incredibly challenging, with successful natural breeding occurring only a few times worldwide each year. However, the polar bear couple at Maruyama Zoo boasts a breeding rate that seems almost unbelievable, defying these odds.

  • December 2003: “Tsuyoshi” was born. (Moved to Kushiro City Zoo in January 2005)
  • December 2005: “Pirika” was born. (Moved to Obihiro Zoo in February 2007)
  • December 2008: Twins “Ikoru” and “Kiloru” were born. (Moved to Obihiro Zoo in February 2010)
  • December 2010: “Aira” was born. (Moved to Obihiro Zoo in February 2012)
  • February 2012: Twins “Pororo” and “Maruru” were born. (Pororo: Moved to Tokushima Municipal Zoological Park in March 2014. Maruru: Moved to Kumamoto City Zoological and Botanical Gardens in March 2014)
  • December 2014: “Lila” was born.

Polar bears are classified as “Vulnerable (VU)” on the Red List and listed in “Appendix II” of the Washington Convention Appendices, indicating they are at risk of extinction. The breeding success rate at Maruyama Zoo is crucial data and experience that can help prevent the extinction of this species.

Breeding of Steller’s Sea Eagles and the “Steller’s Sea Eagle Program”

Maruyama Zoo’s iconic figure, the Steller’s Sea Eagle. Maruyama Zoo is renowned as the first zoo in Japan to successfully breed Steller’s Sea Eagles in captivity. Since the pioneering year of 1993, they have achieved successful breeding six times, raising a total of 13 Steller’s Sea Eagles. Steller’s Sea Eagles are a species of large eagles, with a body length of around 100cm and a wingspan of over 2 meters when fully extended. They primarily prey on large fish like salmon but also occasionally hunt seals, making them carnivorous birds of prey. With a global population of only around 5,000, they are classified as a vulnerable species (VU).

Breeding Steller’s Sea Eagles in captivity is exceptionally challenging. What makes Maruyama Zoo even more notable besides their breeding success is their long-standing resident, “Barsan.” Barsan, a Steller’s Sea Eagle, was part of Maruyama Zoo’s collection since its opening. Unfortunately, Barsan passed away in 2002 at an estimated age of 52, making him one of the oldest Steller’s Sea Eagles in captivity. Barsan’s 51-year tenure at Maruyama Zoo set a world record for the longest captivity period, further enhancing the zoo’s global reputation.

What is the Steller’s Sea Eagle Program?

When it comes to Maruyama Zoo, it’s known for its expertise in Steller’s Sea Eagles, making it a leading zoo worldwide in this regard. Moving forward, Maruyama Zoo is undertaking the Steller’s Sea Eagle Program, aiming to breed and reintroduce these eagles into the wild. By breeding and reintroducing Steller’s Sea Eagles from captivity, they hope to significantly reduce the risk of extinction for this species. In this way, Maruyama Zoo is not just about exhibiting animals but also actively involved in wildlife conservation efforts to save endangered species.

“Pocky,” Japan’s Oldest Serval Cat

On October 27, 2017, we sadly bid farewell to Pocky, the serval cat. Serval cats, which have been gaining more exposure on television as large domesticated felines, are actually designated under Appendix II of the Washington Convention. While the typical lifespan of a serval cat in the wild is around 10 years, and in captivity it’s up to 20 years, Pocky, who resided at Maruyama Zoo, lived to an estimated age of 24, making him the oldest serval cat in Japan.

“Yuma,” Japan’s Oldest Masai Giraffe

Following Pocky the serval cat, Yuma was also the oldest male Masai giraffe in Japan. Unfortunately, he passed away on August 13, 2017. Like Pocky, Yuma was a proud member of the Maruyama Zoo. The newly established “Africa Zone” includes a giraffe house, but with Yuma gone, it now stands empty. It’s worth noting that the Masai giraffe is a rare species in Japan, with only ten individuals being kept in the country.

Maruyama Zoo Shines with Numerous Breeding Awards

Maruyama Zoo has won numerous breeding awards, which are given when an animal species is bred for the first time in Japan.

History of Breeding Awards at Maruyama Zoo:

  • 1968: Diana Monkey (Vulnerable, CITES Appendix I)
  • 1976: White-Cheeked Gibbon
  • 1977: Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur
  • 1978: African Crested Porcupine
  • 1982: Nile Crocodile (CITES Appendix II)
  • 1985: Great Black-Backed Gull, Malayan Tapir (Endangered, CITES Appendix I)
  • 1986: Sea Otter
  • 1987: Mandrill
  • 1988: Snow Leopard (Vulnerable, CITES Appendix I), Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle
  • 1990: Tasmanian Devil (Endangered)
  • 1991: Persian Leopard (Endangered), Great Horned Owl
  • 1992: Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Endangered, CITES Appendix II), Golden Eagle
  • 1993: Red Kangaroo
  • 1994: Kodiak Bear
  • 1995: Bald Eagle (Vulnerable, CITES Appendix II)
  • 1996: Red-Crowned Crane
  • 2002: Siamese Crocodile (Critically Endangered, CITES Appendix II)
  • 2003: Peach-Faced Lovebird
  • 2005: Cambodian Leaf Turtle (Critically Endangered, CITES Appendix II)
  • 2014: Blue-Tailed Skink
  • 2014: Spengler’s Freshwater Turtle (Endangered, CITES Appendix II)
  • 2015: Poison Dart Frog (Endangered, CITES Appendix II)

In this way, they have succeeded in breeding endangered and critically endangered species, making significant contributions to species conservation efforts.

Aspiring to be “Noah’s Ark” – Maruyama Zoo

As mentioned earlier, Maruyama Zoo has been actively engaged in breeding rare animals and has achieved remarkable results. The reasons why these animals are pushed to the brink of extinction mainly include the impact of “global warming” and the effects of “deforestation” caused by us, humans. Maruyama Zoo aims not only to keep and exhibit animals but also to establish breeding techniques akin to “Noah’s Ark” to pass on these animals to future generations.

In recent years, the exhibition method known as “behavioral exhibition” has become common, but Maruyama Zoo’s next goal is “habitat exhibition.” Habitat exhibition involves creating a captive space that closely resembles natural habitats, allowing visitors to feel as if they are observing animals in the wild. Most of the recently renovated facilities have been designed with this habitat exhibition concept in mind, and future renovations are also expected to follow suit.

Highlights of Maruyama Zoo

Maruyama Zoo boasts a total of 17 facilities where animals are exhibited, with plans for further renovations and additions in the future. Let’s take a look at the current layout of the zoo and explore the various facilities along the main route starting from the “Main Gate,” which is the primary entrance, located on the left-hand side of the “Raptor House.”

Raptor House

The “Raptor House” at Maruyama Zoo, home to some of the zoo’s most iconic animals, showcases various birds of prey.
Here, you can see three species:

  • Steller’s Sea Eagle (Vulnerable, listed on CITES Appendix II)
  • White-tailed Eagle (listed on CITES Appendix II)
  • Crested Serpent Eagle (listed on CITES Appendix I)

This facility, completed in 1978, is one of the first attractions visitors encounter upon entering the zoo, leaving a lasting impression. Among them, the Steller’s Sea Eagle, classified as a vulnerable species, is particularly remarkable. It’s the largest eagle species in Japan and symbolizes the majesty of Maruyama Zoo.

Kangaroo House

Next, let’s head over to the “Kangaroo House,” located opposite the Raptor House. By the way, adjacent to the Raptor House is the “Children’s Zoo,” where visitors can interact with animals, but it’s better to visit it last. The Kangaroo House, previously known as the “Old Tasmania House,” was completed in 1989. Some people in their 30s to 40s might remember that during that time, there was a brief boom in popularity surrounding the Tasmanian devil. The “Old Tasmania House” was built during that period to commemorate a sister-city partnership with the Tasmanian State Tourism Board in Australia.

Initially, when the facility opened, it housed 14 species of animals from Tasmania, including Tasmanian devils, wombats, sugar gliders, eastern grey kangaroos, and quokkas, generously donated by Tasmania state. However, over time, as these animals passed away, and with no Tasmanian animals remaining, the facility transitioned into the “Kangaroo House” in 2007.
Currently, it showcases and cares for:

  • Eastern grey kangaroos
  • Slow lorises (Appendix I of CITES)
  • Peach-faced lovebirds
  • Fischer’s lovebirds

Among these, the Eastern grey kangaroo is particularly captivating with its amusing movements and can stand up to the height of a human when it rises. Pay special attention to its tail, which appears almost like a third leg.

Forest of Owls and Hawks

Next up is the “Forest of Owls and Hawks” following the Kangaroo House.
In the Forest of Owls and Hawks, you can find:

  • Blakiston’s Fish Owl
  • Snowy Owl
  • Black Kite
  • Eurasian Eagle-Owl
  • Northern Goshawk
  • Ural Owl

These species are exhibited and cared for here. While the Raptor House showcases larger raptors, this area mainly features medium-sized ones. Moreover, the Maruyama Zoo not only showcases animals but also engages in wildlife conservation and care. Injured birds like Black Kites and Hawks are sheltered here, receiving treatment until they can be released back into the wild.

Africa Zone

Next up is the recently renovated facility, the “Africa Zone.” In this zone, visitors can explore the habitat of animals mainly found in the savannah. The Africa Zone includes two main facilities: the “Giraffe Pavilion” and the “Hippo and Lion Pavilion.”

Giraffe Pavilion

  • Ostrich
  • Serval Cat (Appendix II of the Washington Convention)
  • Meerkat
  • Naked Mole-Rat

Hippo and Lion Pavilion

  • Lion (Vulnerable species, Appendix II of the Washington Convention)
  • Spotted Hyena
  • Hippopotamus (Vulnerable species, Appendix II of the Washington Convention)
  • Eland
  • Yellow-Billed Stork
  • Grant’s Zebra

This newly built facility mainly focuses on the concept of “natural habitat exhibition” aimed by Maruyama Zoo. Visitors can observe hippos swimming underwater, showcasing the zoo’s commitment to creating naturalistic habitats.

Monkey Mountain

Monkey Mountain, opened in 1982, underwent a renovation in October 2017. In Monkey Mountain, lively Japanese macaques can be seen abundantly. The rock formations, resembling the famous Tojinbo Cliffs in Fukui Prefecture, create a habitat that closely resembles the natural environment of Japanese macaques. Initially home to 61 monkeys, Monkey Mountain now houses 80 monkeys from 26 families. Adjacent to Monkey Mountain is a rest house where visitors can enjoy their lunch while overlooking the bustling monkey habitat.

Exciting Holidays Asia Zone

Moving on from the “Monkey Mountain,” if you head towards the back of the “African Zone,” you’ll come across the “Exciting Holidays Asia Zone.” Opened in 2012, the “Exciting Holidays Asia Zone” consists of three areas: the “Cold Climate Pavilion,” the “Highland Pavilion,” and the “Tropical Rainforest Pavilion.” Here, you can encounter animals mainly found in Asia.

【Cold Climate Pavilion】

  • Amur Tiger (Endangered Species (EN), CITES Appendix I)
  • Snow Leopard (Vulnerable Species (VU), CITES Appendix I)

【Highland Pavilion】

  • Red Panda (Endangered Species (EN), CITES Appendix I)
  • Himalayan Bear (Vulnerable Species (VU), CITES Appendix I)

【Tropical Rainforest Pavilion】

  • Malayan Sun Bear (Vulnerable Species (VU), CITES Appendix I)
  • Lion-tailed Macaque (Endangered Species (EN), CITES Appendix I)
  • Black-handed Spider Monkey (Critically Endangered Species (CR))
  • White-headed Langur (Critically Endangered Species (CR), CITES Appendix I)
  • Gibbon
  • Asian Small-clawed Otter (Vulnerable Species (VU), CITES Appendix II)
  • Asian Arowana (Endangered Species (EN))

These animals are exhibited and cared for in each of these facilities.

One of the highlights is the area where the Red Pandas move on the overhead walkways right above the visitors. It’s always crowded with people taking souvenir photos. Since you can see the Red Pandas up close, it’s highly recommended.

Primate Pavilion

Once you leave the Exciting Holiday Asia Zone, the next prominent attraction you’ll encounter is the “Primate Pavilion.” The Primate Pavilion, which underwent renovations in April 2008, is home to Bornean orangutans and white-cheeked gibbons. To recreate the habitat of orangutans, the pavilion is adorned with living trees and plants, providing a setting that closely mimics their natural environment.

Reptile and Amphibian Pavilion

After leaving the Primate Pavilion, you’ll come across the “Reptile and Amphibian Pavilion.” In this pavilion, about 70 species and 450 specimens of reptiles and amphibians are housed and exhibited, offering quite a substantial experience just by exploring this facility alone. The interior of the pavilion is designed with four distinct habitats in mind: tropical, subtropical, Japanese, and temperate, reflecting the diverse environments where these creatures reside. The ambiance inside tends to be somewhat dimly lit. Moreover, the central part of the facility is made of glass, allowing visitors to observe activities like hatching in the “Center Lab” enclosure.

Main Exhibits

  • Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Vulnerable, CITES Appendix II)
  • Malayan Gharial (Vulnerable, CITES Appendix I)
  • Chinese Alligator (Critically Endangered, CITES Appendix I)
  • Rhino Iguana (Vulnerable, CITES Appendix I)
  • Jungle Carpet Python (CITES Appendix II)
  • Water Monitor Lizard (CITES Appendix II)
  • Green Anaconda (CITES Appendix II)
  • Chinese Water Dragon (CITES Appendix II)
  • Blue Poison Dart Frog (CITES Appendix II)
  • Cobalt Poison Dart Frog (Vulnerable)
  • Ploughshare Tortoise (Critically Endangered, CITES Appendix I)
  • Gila Monster (Near Threatened, CITES Appendix I)
  • Chinese Big-headed Turtle (Critically Endangered, CITES Appendix II)
  • Chinese Crocodile Lizard (CITES Appendix II)
  • Armadillo Lizard (Vulnerable, CITES Appendix II)
  • Hamilton’s Turtle (Vulnerable, CITES Appendix I)
  • Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Critically Endangered, CITES Appendix II)
  • Spengler’s Tortoise (Endangered, CITES Appendix II)
  • Mount Dzumac Frog (Endangered, CITES Appendix II)
  • Giant Asian Pond Turtle (CITES Appendix II)
  • Oriental Fire-bellied Toad (CITES Appendix II)
  • Japanese Fire-bellied Newt (CITES Appendix II)

and more.

General Waterfowl Aviary

At the “Comprehensive Waterfowl Aviary,” which opened in 1986,

  • Humboldt Penguin (Vulnerable species, listed in Appendix I of the Washington Convention)
  • Common Moorhen
  • Grey Heron
  • Black-crowned Night Heron
  • Red-crowned Crane (Endangered species, listed in Appendix I of the Washington Convention)
  • Northern Pintail
  • Black-faced Spoonbill
  • Mallard

The facility houses various animals for display and care. Primarily focusing on birds inhabiting water environments, this facility ensures that birds can be observed even during the winter months, thanks to well-equipped indoor enclosures with heating facilities.

Tropical Bird Pavilion

The Tropical Bird Pavilion mainly showcases and cares for birds that inhabit tropical regions. Inside the pavilion, you’ll find artificial waterfalls, streams, and tropical plants, creating an environment similar to that of a tropical rainforest.

At the Tropical Bird Pavilion, you can see:

  • Chilean Flamingo
  • Andean Flamingo (Near Threatened, CITES Appendix II)
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Mandarin Duck
  • Indian Peafowl
  • Crested Myna
  • Crested Ibis (CITES Appendix II)
  • Helmeted Hornbill
  • Red-breasted Goose

These are some of the animals you can observe there. The interior of the pavilion resembles a tropical rainforest jungle, making it an enjoyable facility to explore various birds.

Polar Bear Pavilion

Leaving the Tropical Bird Pavilion, you’ll come across the “Polar Bear Pavilion” tucked away at the back of Maruyama Zoo. This is a newly renovated facility that opened on March 13, 2018, replacing the former bear enclosure. Here, you can see the beloved polar bears, a top attraction at Maruyama Zoo, along with their Arctic companions, the seals. The zoo’s polar bear pair, Denali and Lara, are known for their strong bond and compatibility. With babies born in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014, you might even catch a glimpse of adorable polar bear cubs quite frequently.

Interestingly, polar bears, like the ones here, are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, with successful natural breeding occurring only a few times worldwide each year. Moreover, they’re classified as “Vulnerable” and listed under “Appendix II” of the Washington Convention even in the wild, indicating their endangered status. Despite these challenges, Maruyama Zoo has seen a remarkable rate of successful breeding among its polar bears, making them beloved favorites among visitors for their adorable antics. By the way, it’s said that polar bear cubs are more active and playful in the morning.

Marine Mammal Pavilion

Next to the Global Bear Pavilion, you’ll find the “Marine Mammal Pavilion.”
Here, you can see:

  • Ribbon seals
  • Spotted seals

These marine mammals inhabit the waters around Hokkaido. Despite the harsh winters, they thrive in the region, and you can observe them in the pavilion year-round. Visiting during the cold winter might make you feel sorry for them, but this environment is actually their natural habitat. They’re accustomed to living in even harsher cold climates.

Brown Bear Pavilion

Next up is the “Brown Bear Pavilion,” where the Hokkaido brown bears, native to the harsh cold of Hokkaido, are exhibited. Designed with the bears’ natural behavior in mind, the pavilion resembles their habitat, featuring elements like shelters and caves where bears can rest. Visitors might even catch a glimpse of these powerful creatures through an acrylic window, offering a close-up encounter with the impressive Hokkaido brown bear.

Ezo Deer and Wolf Pavilion

The “Ezo Deer and Wolf Pavilion” showcases animals that inhabit Hokkaido, or so you might think. However, the wolves on display are actually “Timber Wolves” from North America. Once, Hokkaido was home to the “Ezo Wolf,” but it became extinct, leaving us unable to see them today. Despite this, both Ezo deer and wolves are separately housed and displayed in areas designed to evoke the natural environment of Hokkaido. The pavilion also features open decks where visitors can leisurely observe the animals.

Chimpanzee Pavilion

Just a short walk downhill from the Ezo Deer and Wolf Pavilion, you’ll come across the “Chimpanzee Pavilion.” Inside the Chimpanzee Pavilion, you can witness the agile movements of chimpanzees as they navigate through a 15-meter-tall jungle gym and bouldering area. Moreover, visitors can observe the chimpanzees’ parenting behaviors, contributing to the zoo’s reputation as the second-highest breeding rate facility after the Tama Zoological Park in Japan. It’s an opportunity to observe and learn about these intelligent creatures known for their human-like intelligence while experiencing their natural habitat and activities.

Monkey House

Next to the Chimpanzee House, you’ll find the “Monkey House.”
In this Monkey House, you can see various rare monkey species such as the:

  • Squirrel Monkey (Appendix I of the Washington Convention)
  • Golden Lion Tamarin (Endangered, Appendix I of the Washington Convention)
  • Saki Monkey
  • Diana Monkey (Vulnerable, Appendix I of the Washington Convention)
  • Douc Langur (Appendix II of the Washington Convention)
  • Mandrill (Vulnerable, Appendix I of the Washington Convention)
  • Guenon

The facility was built in 1984, so it has a bit of an older feel, but it’s a place where you can observe these lively monkeys in action.

Children’s Zoo

A must-visit spot to wrap up your trip is the “Children’s Zoo.” Here, children and adults alike can interact with animals such as sheep, geese, and ducks, as they roam freely. It’s a popular area for kids to engage with animals, but it’s also beloved by adults and couples.
In the Children’s Zoo, you can meet the following animals:

【Squirrel Monkey Dome】

  • Squirrel monkeys

【Dwarf Forest】

  • Siberian flying squirrel
  • Hokkaido red fox
  • Hokkaido squirrel
  • Hokkaido hare

【Beaver Forest】

  • American beaver
  • Prairie dog
  • Raccoon


  • Guinea pig
  • Chinese bamboo partridge
  • Indian peafowl
  • Lady Amherst’s pheasant
  • Long-tailed tit
  • Japanese white-eye
  • White-cheeked starling
  • Eurasian tree sparrow
  • Miniature horse
  • Sheep (Corriedale breed)
  • Rabbit (Netherland Dwarf)
  • Rabbit (Lop-eared)
  • Siberian chipmunk
  • Hokkaido red-backed vole

Animal Science Museum (Next-Generation Energy Park)

The last stop you’d want to make is the “Animal Science Museum.” Unlike a typical zoo, this museum is more about understanding animals rather than simply observing them. You won’t find live animals on display here. Instead, you’ll encounter exhibits featuring “stuffed specimens” and “skeletal displays” of animals that were once housed and exhibited at the Maruyama Zoo. While it might seem a bit eerie, especially for kids, it’s a place where you can delve into the history of Maruyama Zoo and learn about the ecology of various animals. Moreover, there’s a “Zoo Cafe” inside the facility where you can enjoy lunch or coffee. They also offer a wide range of official merchandise, making it a must-stop spot on your way out.

So far, we’ve covered the essential information about Maruyama Zoo. Now, let’s delve into events and helpful tips to make the most of your visit to Maruyama Zoo.

Check out the Events at Maruyama Zoo!

Maruyama Zoo offers more than just observing the animals on display. Depending on the timing, you can also enjoy various events, enhancing your zoo experience. One of the most popular events is the annual “Night Zoo.” During this special period, visitors can experience the nocturnal behavior of animals not usually visible during the day, and soak in the unique atmosphere of the zoo after dark. Moreover, there are plenty of events unique to Hokkaido’s winter season. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy Maruyama Zoo not only in the summer but also during the winter months. Be sure to check out the events calendar for Maruyama Zoo!

“Exciting Experiences” with Guided Tours and Dining Scenes

When visiting Maruyama Zoo, one of the must-try experiences is the “Exciting Experiences.” These experiences offer the chance to get up close and personal with the animals, providing both children and adults with plenty of enjoyment. During the events, zookeepers provide detailed explanations about the animals’ behavior and habits, allowing visitors to observe scenes like feeding time up close. It’s a great opportunity to capture some adorable moments, making it perfect for photography enthusiasts. Be sure to check the zoo’s website for event schedules before your visit!

List of “Exciting Experiences” at Maruyama Zoo (Location of Events):

  • Free Flight of Birds of Prey (Outdoor Stage Area)
  • Forest Stroll Time (Zoo’s Forest Area)
  • Guinea Pig Guide (Children’s Zoo Interaction Classroom)
  • Guinea Pig Interaction Experience (Children’s Zoo Interaction Classroom)
  • Squirrel Monkey Feeding Guide (Children’s Zoo Squirrel Monkey Dome)
  • Squirrel Monkey Feeding Experience (Children’s Zoo Squirrel Monkey Dome)
  • Chicken Snack Time (Children’s Zoo)
  • Tanuki Guide (Children’s Zoo)
  • Sheep Guide (Children’s Zoo)
  • Himalayan Bear Snack Time (Exciting Holiday Asia Zone Alpine House)
  • Japanese Macaque Feeding Time (Monkey Mountain)
  • Ezo Deer Guide (Ezo Deer & Wolf Enclosure)
  • Ezo Deer Feeding Time (Ezo Deer & Wolf Enclosure)
  • Reptile and Amphibian Guide Tour (Reptile and Amphibian House)
  • Crocodile Guide (Reptile and Amphibian House)
  • Flamingo Trivia (Tropical Bird House)
  • Feeding Guide at the Tropical Bird House (Tropical Bird House)
  • Ezo Brown Bear Feeding Time (Ezo Brown Bear House)
  • Lesser Panda Feeding Time (Exciting Holiday Asia Zone Alpine House)
  • Birds of Prey Release Facility Guide (Birds of Prey Release Facility)
  • Seal Guide (Marine Mammal House)
  • Red-Crowned Crane Guide (Comprehensive Water Bird House)
  • Helmeted Hornbill Point Guide (Exciting Holiday Asia Zone Tropical Rainforest House)

Summer’s Traditional Event “Night Zoo”

Every year, there’s a tradition at Maruyama Zoo called “Night Zoo.” While the zoo usually closes around 4 p.m., for a few days in August, it extends its closing time until 9 p.m., allowing visitors to witness the nocturnal behaviors of animals that are usually unseen. During the event, various activities take place throughout the zoo. There are jazz performances, limited-capacity backstage tours, and special tours tailored for children. It’s not just families who enjoy it; couples also frequent the event, relishing the chance to experience the zoo’s mystical atmosphere under the cover of night.

Winter’s traditional event 1 “New Year’s First Three Days”

You’ll be glad to know that admission to Maruyama Zoo is free during the “First Three Days” of the New Year. What’s more, there’s usually a special giveaway related to the zodiac animal of the year for early visitors. Since Hokkaido Shrine is located right next to Maruyama Zoo, it might be a great idea to pay a visit to the animals at the zoo after offering New Year’s greetings at the shrine.

Winter’s traditional event 2 “Snow Festival”

One of the major winter events in Sapporo city is the “Sapporo Snow Festival,” but at the same time, the “Snow Festival” is also held at Maruyama Zoo. During the Snow Festival, admission to the zoo is free, and there are plenty of events happening inside. A highly recommended activity for children is the “ice slides,” featuring 15-meter and 30-meter slides made of ice. Moreover, last year, there was also a “Night Zoo” event held for just two days during the winter.

The Future of Maruyama Zoo

As Maruyama Zoo approaches its 70th anniversary, various facilities are aging, prompting ongoing efforts for renovation. Surrounded by the natural monument of Maruyama Primeval Forest, the zoo aims to transform into a “habitat exhibition” zoo, encompassing this primeval forest. A pioneering effort towards this goal is the “Exciting Holiday Asia Zone,” consisting of three buildings: the Cold Zone Pavilion, the Highland Pavilion, and the Tropical Rainforest Pavilion, as mentioned earlier.

In September 2018, the Elephant House was completed.

In July 1953, during its third year since opening, Hanako, an Asian elephant, arrived at Maruyama Zoo and quickly became its iconic figure, gaining popularity over the years. However, sadly, Hanako passed away in January 2007 due to old age, estimated to be around 60 years old, and no elephants were kept at the zoo thereafter. But with numerous requests from the public, the zoo finally welcomed four Asian elephants, including a mother and her calf, from an elephant conservation facility in Myanmar. Visitors can observe them in their indoor enclosure, which includes a land stage, a water stage, and a training zone.

In April 2020, the “Polar Bear Pavilion” and the “Seal Pavilion” were opened.

In April 2020, the “Polar Bear Pavilion” opened in front of the Elephant House. The new Polar Bear Pavilion features a large pool with an 18-meter-long underwater tunnel. Visitors can observe polar bears swimming underwater from below. The land area of the enclosure is landscaped with grass, trees, logs, caves, and streams, recreating natural habitat features. The design aims to mimic a natural environment, with slopes and undulating terrain. Additionally, the Polar Bear Pavilion includes the “Seal Pavilion” as well.

Overcoming Numerous Accidents

Amidst the anticipation of new facilities and future developments at Maruyama Zoo, unfortunate incidents of sudden animal deaths and accidents occurred during the construction and relocation associated with the new facilities. This led to global attention being drawn more to the news of accidents than to the information about the new facilities. In recent years, Maruyama Zoo has been under scrutiny due to incidents involving animals and concerns about their care management. However, as mentioned earlier, Maruyama Zoo has a track record of successful breeding programs for rare animals. While there are both expectations and concerns about the future developments, such as the introduction of elephants, let’s continue to support the zoo in its efforts to become a globally renowned facility.

Maruyama Zoo

  • Address: 3-1 Miyanomori, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0959
  • Map: Google Maps
  • Access:
    • By bus from Maruyama Koen Station: Approximately 7 minutes
    • On foot from Maruyama Koen Station: Approximately 15 minutes
  • Phone Number: 011-621-1426
  • Opening Hours:
    • Summer (March 1st to October 31st): 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM (Last entry at 4:00 PM)
    • Winter (November 1st to end of February): 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM (Last entry at 3:30 PM)
  • Closed on:
    • 2nd and 4th Wednesdays (If a national holiday falls on those days, the next day will be closed)
    • April: 3rd week from Monday to Friday
    • November: 2nd week from Monday to Friday
    • December 29th to 31st
  • Admission Fee:
    • Adults: 800 yen
    • High School Students: 400 yen (with student ID)
    • Children (Junior High School students and below): Free
    • Groups (30 people or more): 720 yen per person
    • Annual Passport (High School students and above): 2,000 yen
  • Official Website: Maruyama Zoo

A well-known tourist spot in Sapporo is the Maruyama Zoo. It has already achieved many milestones, and it is likely to continue making significant contributions in the future. When visiting Maruyama Zoo, having the information provided here will enhance your experience. Let’s continue to support Maruyama Zoo and enjoy meeting all the wonderful animals it has to offer!


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