Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui


Lesser pandas in Nishiyama Zoo, Sabae City

[ Narrated in English ]

Nishiyama Park in Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture is known as a famous azalea spot. I came to Nishiyama Zoo in the park. The admission is free and “The smallest zoo in Japan” according to Sabae City. However, their lesser panda breeding success is Japan’s top and it is popular as a zoo of lesser pandas.


The history of lesser panda breeding of Nishiyama Zoo which opened in 1985 started from three lesser pandas ShuShu, KeiKei, PanPan which were given by Beijin Zoo in 1984 - 1985. Since a first baby lesser panda RinRin was born in 1986, 55 baby ones were born until now and 41 out of them have grown.(as excerpted from the website of Nishiyama Zoo “Family tree of the lesser pandas”


As I look the family tree, lesser pandas are exchanged between zoos across Japan. And the baby lesser pandas born in Nishiyama Zoo also were adopted nationwide.


I saw a newspaper article that said Minfa, moved to Oji Zoo in Kobe City from here in 2014, gave birth safely the other day. Talking of Minfa, it is also called “Escape Queen”. It became known for repeated escape and sounds like it is doing well at its new home too. The photo on the right shows “Milky” which is the Minfa’s child. Perhaps due to the heat, it was breathing hardly and sleeping limply in the cage.

On the other hand, even in the heat, the monkeys in the zoo were lively, they were hanging down from the ceiling and running round. The photo on the left shows a baby of Bolivian squirrel monkey which was clinging tight to its mother’s back. I was able to see rare monkeys called Francois’s langur(the photo below) which has a characteristic hairstyle, and lar gibbon’s baby.


On your way back, why not visit a roadside plaza Nishiyama Park? You can enter the building in an elevator from on the hill directly. Their specialty is absolutely “Nishiyama Croquette”. Fukui Prefecture is the top consumer of croquette and even such people of Fukui recognize as delicious croquette. Even so, on such a hot day, you should first eat “Azalea soft-service ice cream”. It is also popular, associated with Nishiyama Park which is famous for azalea and flavored by azalea.

Also, “Sabae Strawberry Ice Cream” which has started selling on July 25th 2015 sounds good too. And the lesser panda’s illustration on the package is cute. ( Website of The Roadside Plaza Nishiyama Park )


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