"The Renaissance of zoo in the 21st century" project goals
African Savanna Zone
- to establish a new aspect the zoo in the 21st century
should be to contribute to the protection of wild species
of animals and ecological education
- to vitalize the Tennoji Zoo with increasing the number
Recreation and Tourism Bureau, Osaka City
The Zoo21 project is designed to advance the transition of
an exhibition style of animals at Tennoji Zoo from a conventional
classificational display to a new ecological display while
remodeling decrepit facilities. The project aims to vitalize
the zoo and also to establish a new aspect in which the zoo
in the 21st century can contribute to the protection of wild
species and also to the ecological education.
In 1980, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature
and Natural Resources) jointly announced with WWF (World Wide
Fund for Nature) and UNEP (United Nations Environment Program)
the World Environment Strategy, which defines the principles
for the protection of natural resources including wild animals.
The announcement included an advisory statement by IUCN regarding
the maintenance and display methods of wild animals at zoos,
focusing on the following two principles:
In line with the above principles, North America’s progressive zoos have introduced naturalistic exhibits for animals since the 1980s.
||A zoo shall keep wild animals
under a good zoo keeping management and an appropriate
breeding plan to be beneficial to the protection of the
||A zoo shall display wild
animals according to a well-prepared educational plan
to encourage visitors' understanding of the roles of
animals in the ecosystem.
At Tennoji Zoo, the ecological museum of reptiles, “IFAR” first employed this naturalistic exhibit style. This style was also utilized in the subsequent constructions of an underwater viewing pool for hippos, a rhino paddock, an “African Savanna” herbivorous animal zone, an elephant exhibition in the Asian rain forest zone, and an “African Savanna” carnivorous animal zone. The zoo plans to improve most animal facilities by remodeling outdated ones in accordance with this naturalistic exhibit style.
Research on naturalistic exhibits at Tennoji Zoo began in 1990. The basic concept of the Zoo21 project was formulated in 1993 and the basic construction plan was established in the following year. The project was divided into three construction terms. The basic plan for the first construction term was formulated in 1995.
- The opening of the ecological museum of reptiles, “IFAR” in 1995 marked the beginning of the Zoo21 project. The museum comprises several different zones of North American swamp, dry land, near/in water, tropical rainforest, and nature of Japan. These zones display reptiles and other living organisms inhabiting various types of environments.
- Prior to completion of the Asian rainforest zone for the Zoo21 project, the old elephant exhibition facility in the Asian rainforest zone was replaced with a new facility in 2004. The forest zones here represent a reproduction of the natural habitat areas for native Asian elephants; replica models are displayed for a Burmese python and a Varanus salvator (water monitor). By replicating Asian subtropical rainforests, where species diversity is very high, as well as a Thai style banana field and pond, visitors can learn the relationship between elephants and people.
- Following the opening of the first underwater viewing pool for hippos in 1997, the rhinoceros paddock in 1998, and the herbivorous animal zone in 2000, the “African Savanna” area was completed with the opening of the carnivorous animal zone in 2006. The hippo pool enables visitors to view this animal’s life in the water. The carnivorous animal zone and the herbivorous animal zone are arranged ingeniously, so that carnivorous animals, such as lions and hyenas, are facing the background of herbivorous animals such as giraffes and zebras, making it appear that these animals are sharing and living in the same area. Through such exhibitions, visitors will be able to enjoy the sense of actually being in Africa.
The opening of the carnivorous animal zone in 2006 marked the completion of the “African Savanna” area. Construction of the “African Savanna” commenced after the opening of the underwater viewing pool for hippos in 1997. The Zoo21 project is subject to review, while outdated animal facilities requiring renovation will adopt the naturalistic exhibit method.
Over the past ten years, Tennoji Zoo has renovated old facilities into newer and more efficient ones, which has gained favorable responses from its visitors. The addition of the carnivorous animal zone in the “African Savanna” area, along with Japan’s first underwater viewing pool for hippos, the spacious rhino paddock and the herbivorous animal zone elaborately reproduce a habitat that is close to the original landscape. Visitors can imagine being in an environment that closely resembles a real African Savanna. There is high expectation that the introduction of the naturalistic exhibit method will further vitalize Tennoji Zoo and attract more visitors.
Tennoji Zoo’s improvement project will add a more positive effect in revitalizing the vicinity, such as Tennoji, Abeno and Shin-sekai, areas with which the zoo has promoted closer collaboration in recent years.
Contact for more information
Recreation and Tourism Bureau, Osaka City
Animal Husbandry Department, Tennoji Zoological and Botanical
Garden Office (Tel: 06-6771-8401)
"Development of Zoo by Introducing Ecological Display"
By Kenji Wakau, Assistant Professor, Environmental Planning
Department, Osaka University of Arts
Tennoji Zoo is currently facing its turning point as it attempts
changing its display style of animals, from a conventional
classificational exhibit that shows animals in cages and
concrete walls to a new ecological display that introduce
animals' real lives in a reproduced landscape close to their
home. The destruction of the living environments of animals
is globally in progress, exposing many species to the risk
of extinction. In response to this situation, the roles of
zoos are increasing worldwide as a place that leads the movement
of species preservation and encourages people's understanding
of animals' living environment and the important value of
Tennoji Zoo took an early step for this movement towards
the ecological display and started the discussion more than
ten years ago on what the zoo of the next generation should
be, which has become the basis of its Zoo21 project.
In 1999, the zoo started a designing process of the "Forest
of Asia" that includes a new elephant exhibition facility.
In the following 2000, "African Savanna" herbivorous
animal zone was completed in the north area of the zoo.
In real African savanna, animals live in various types of
environments, from grassland and sparse woodland to riverside
forest and crag. In real Asian jungles, meanwhile, Asian
elephants live in woods next to cultivated lands. To create
the landscapes that show how wild animals adapt themselves
to the surrounding environment and what factors are endangering
their habitat, the zoo conducted on-site studies of animals'
habitat and reflected the result from these studies in the
The ecological display is intended to encourage the visitors'
understanding of animal life and values of their habitat.
It requires a zoo to prepare its facilities so that it would
influence visitors to change their attitude and views towards
nature while they tour through the exhibitions.
Zoos are an open-air museum and also an information source
about life. Since the concept of the ecological display is
still new in Japan, the project at Tennoji Zoo has drawn
a lot of attention from other zoos in the country. As a strategy
center for the improvement of greeneries in Osaka City, this
latest challenge by Tennoji Zoo will play a significant roll
in the development of the city whose goal is to create the
city full of flowers and greens.