This zoo has so many animals and a great opportunity to really get up and close, smell them, and take pictures.
There is free entry to the place on Tokyo Citizen's day (already passed for Oct 1, 2008) and on the zoo's anniversary on May 5th. Greenery day too on May 4th. When you first enter, there is the gift/souvenir shop on the left (most people hit this up when the park closes and most of the animals are shooed into their cages; my group's exception were the tiger and the wolves; if you don't mind it being crowded, you can just go closing time 4:30 pm onwards)
The little pillar has a brochure and map of the whole place, with animals listed; good to know the general area, but the roads kinda swish every which way.
They have an eating/picnic area in the middle, with some weird bird supposedly in the trees around. When i was there, a peacock was just walking around, so that was interesting.
Off the top of my head, a few of the animals: lion, tiger, wolf, bats & other night creatures, rats, elephants, flamingos, zebra, eagles, kangaroos, gorilla/chimpanzee, pelicans, leopard, insect observatory, and sooo much more. this place is gigantic. i'd suggest getting here early to be able to go around the whole place (if you stop to gawk and take pictures like we did)
Thanks to Ryan's review (I never knew about Tama Zoo until I found it on Sunnypages!), I brought my nearly-three-year-old son out to Tama Zoo on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in late May. We had a fantastic time.
We arrived after 1pm due to our late start and over one-hour ride on multiple trains. As we entered, hundreds of yellow-capped school kids were leaving after their field trip. As the crowds thinned out, we were able to really enjoy the short lines (Lion Bus) and relative peace and quiet strolling along the sprawling grounds.
The only negative in arriving so late was that we only had time for the "African zone", but that just means we will have to return to explore the Asian and Australian zones (I am not sure my boy is ready for the "Insectarium" yet).
The absolute highlight was the Lion Bus. We waited less than 15 minutes (after paying an extra 400 yen on top of the 600 yen entry fee) and we shuffled onto the zebra-striped, big-windowed van. Luckily we had a corner seat, which meant floor-to-ceiling windows for a nearly 360-degree view. Amazing. The male lion was literally licking the window and my son was pleasantly terrified/mesmerized. Still to this day, when I mention the Tama Zoo, he says "the big lion was really scary!" with a big smile on his face. That right there was worth all the effort.
We intentionally took a slightly longer route to reach Tama Zoo. I wanted to avoid going through Ikebukuro and Shinjuku with a baby stroller. I also wanted to check out the Tama Monorail, which is very modern, with easy access and elevators! The only spot where I got caught without even an escalator and had to carry my sleeping son in his stroller up a full flight of stairs was transferring from the Chuo Line to the Musashino Line at Nishi-Kokobunji.
Other highlights: baby cheetahs, chimpanzee family antics, and of course the huge lumbering elephants.
Lions, Tigers, and Bears Oh my, and more? A short train ride outside of Tokyo lies a vast and spacious zoo that has so many interesting and adorable animals. This zoo is different from others because of how close you can get to a lot of the animals. My favorite part was the lion pit. It is a large enclosure that in which you can take the "Lion Bus" through. The lion bus goes through the pit and gets you right next to the lions with a large sheet of glass in between you and them. They have about 12 lions so you are almost guaranteed to see some lions lying out in the middle of the path. Additionally, I really liked the kangaroo enclosure. You walk through a set of doors to get in, and once you are there, there is no fence separating you from the kangaroos except a half foot line that says do not cross. You can't touch them, but you get close enough where you might be able to. There is an Insectorium which was truly fascinating. You walk in and see several different insects and bugs in cages imbedded in the wall, and then you walk through a door into a large greenery with countless butterflies all around you. They fly right to you and it is really cool to see so many in one place. Next to the Insectorium is an area that is directed at kids and has a real hands on approach. There were bugs you can hold and things to color in. The zoo is separated into different habitats like African and Australian, and coming soon there will be an Asian Swamp. When I went to see the orangutans, one got up right next to the glass and was really cool to look at. They have a high wire suspension in between two different monkey cages so the monkeys will climb up and over the walkway in-between cages on their own. Watching the monkeys' graceful swing on the walkway is truly fascinating. My last favorite part of the zoo was the red pandas. They are not the big black and white pandas that are so infamous, but cute smaller red and black pandas. There is really no fence between you and them, and when I went, one of the trainers was feeding them apples and started explaining about them (in Japanese). They were so adorable eating the slices of apple. The Tama zoo is very English friendly and is much better than the Ueno zoo because of the large enclosures and better access to the animals. The park is very big so be prepared to walk, or take one of the shuttles that will help take you from one end to the other.