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Spending a Day at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo

I promised to show off my panda photos today, and I’m going to keep that promise! Haha. And, of course, the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo doesn’t just have giant pandas. They also have hippos, okapis, rhinos and even tapirs! It was pretty awesome to see tapirs or okapis in real life! And the hippos were even getting their teeth cleaned out when we saw them – it was crazy!

But before I show some of the other animals, let’s marvel at the cuteness of the giant pandas, Shin Shin and Ri Ri, as they enjoy their bamboo lunch!

ueno zoo panda
Ueno Zoo panda

One of the things I read about the pandas, as I was waiting in line to see them, is that they are really good at climbing up trees! However, they can’t get back down once they climb up…so, the zookeepers have to go rescue the pandas pretty often. Haha. Poor little guys!

Red panda Ueno zoo

Red pandas, however, are very good at climbing trees and also getting back down them! I really enjoyed watching these guys climb! They aren’t related to giant pandas at all, either. They’re more closely related to raccoons.

snow monkey
This snow monkey is weighing himself! Haha.

Another animal I could’ve watched for hours was the snow monkey! They were hilarious, and I thought it was just too funny that they were able to weigh themselves on the scale pictured above. (Although, I think they just liked sitting there…not that they cared how much they weighed. Haha.)

We spent the most time, however, by the gorillas. These guys were fascinating to watch. I don’t believe I had seen a gorilla in real life since I was about 8. Their mannerisms and facial expressions are so human-like it was startling.

Ueno Zoo gorilla

And my favorite thing at the zoo was getting to see hippos and pygmy hippos up close! Their outdoor habitats were getting cleaned when came through, so they were indoors getting fed…and we were able to really get a good view of them!

Pygmy hippo Ueno Zoo
Pygmy hippo

I had initially been a bit concerned about how messy the pygmy hippos indoor area was (why wasn’t this area getting cleaned?)…but then I watched these little guys in action for a few minutes! Wow! They, um, poo where ever they darn well please, and it goes everywhere. There were even signs warning that you could get hit! Eek.

The big hippos, however, were not as messy. And they were actually getting their teeth cleaned out when we walked over by them! I had always thought hippos were pretty dangerous, but these guys didn’t seem to want to eat the zookeepers. They even seemed to enjoy getting the water squirted in their mouth. 🙂

hippo getting his teeth cleaned


The okapi was also inside at this time. I apologize for the quality of his photos. There was a glass in between us, and the glare was terrible. Okapis kind of look like zebras, but they’re actually more closely related to giraffes. And I was really impressed that all the little kids who were looking at the okapi, knew what he was and how to pronounce “okapi!”

Tapirs were another animal I was really surprised to see! They kind of are similar to pigs and live in the jungles in South America and Southeastern Asia.

tapir ueno zoo

I’m also rather pleased with this photo I took of the Ueno Zoo’s tiger. Haha.

Ueno Zoo tiger

Needless to say, I was like a little kid at this zoo. There were so many animals I had never dreamed I would see outside of watching National Geographic! And getting to watch the hippos was incredible. If you are in Tokyo, Ueno Zoo is definitely worth a visit, and it’s only 600 yen for a ticket (roughly $6 USD)! Click here for their website.

I’ll end this post with a gallery of some more photos I had taken. And I’m curious, which is your favorite animal out of the bunch? 🙂 And has anyone else seen okapis or tapirs or giant pandas? Let me know in the comments!

Click here to see my panda-themed outfit that I wore to the zoo!

Spending a Day at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo
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  1. Lindsey, the red pandas are so cute! I don’t think I have ever seen them before, but they are my favorite among the photos you shared in the post. Oh, and the hippo teeth cleaning is a riot!

    1. Red pandas are the cutest! I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos! And I couldn’t get over how complacent that hippo was getting his teeth cleaned out. He seemed sad when it was over. Haha.

  2. I like how the pandas sit and eat. I thought the okapi was very interesting. I didn’t know that it was related to the giraffe.

    1. Thank you so much for reading, Carlyn! Haha, I liked that too…they seemed so content to just sit there and eat. I didn’t know that was what the okapi was related to either until I read the sign..I always thought they were related to zebras!

    1. Aw, thank you so much, Sakuranko! And I agree, the tiger is very kawaii. (I really need to use that term more.) 🙂

  3. This is so neat! I’m with you being like a little kid at the zoo haha! I love seeing all of the animals that you don’t get to see on a normal daily basis. Seeing the hippos get their teeth cleaned is quite an experience and I agree that tiger photo is great!


    1. Haha, glad I’m not the only little kid trapped in an adult’s body at the zoo! 😉 Thank you so much, Amanda! 🙂

  4. Wow, that is so neat you were able to see the hippo getting its teeth cleaned. It looks like the man’s entire hand is down in his mouth.

    1. It does look like that! And alls I could think was, “Aren’t hippos really vicious?!” Haha.

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