Japan's Northernmost Zoo a Big Hit
And then there is the Chimpanzee Forest, newly opened in August 2006. An aerial tunnel for people passes through the forest, 5 meters above the ground. It is covered in acrylic glass to let you see the tree residents up close, swinging on ropes, holding their children, doing whatever chimps do.
The zoo's vice president, Bando Gen, explains why a zoo should be constructed from the animals' perspective. "If you give animals the right amount of stimulation and a habitat that lets them use their intelligence, they become naturally lively. Before we built this natural area our chimps were in a cage, and when I went in front of it they would make a racket, throw water and spit at me, obviously wary. But just a few days after they moved to this more natural environment they stopped trying to intimidate us. Before, they would never show us their children, but that's changed too. It must be because they have plenty of room and can climb up high — the space and height gives them a feeling of reassurance and independence. The same thing goes for the other animals, too, of course."