The zoo in Utsunomiya is a sad and pitiful affair. It’s heart-breaking and tear-inducing and if you love and care about animals, it’s best you stay away.
I made the mistake of going in and regretted it pretty much as soon as I walked through the ticket gate. But since at 1000 yen per person, the entrance fee is not exactly cheap, I was determined to see what I was paying for. And that was my second mistake.
I despise zoos in general but do realize they serve a purpose when it comes to breeding and preserving near-extinct species. However, those establishments are few and far between, and the miserable place in Utsunomiya is definitely not one of them. Here, the animals look old, sad and diseased. The lions and tigers broke my heart and made me cry. The tiger suffering from a skin infection, with open sores on its hind leg was especially upsetting. I wanted to run out and never come back.
So why did I stay?
A. Husband had the car keys and I didn’t fancy sitting in the parking lot all day.
B. The cherry blossoms there were simply amazing.
Yes, the only redeeming feature of the zoo in Utsunomiya is the simply mind-blowing sakura, of course only during the cherry blossom season. The flowers are more than worth the price of the entry fee.
We risked our lives and took a ride on the rickety ferris wheel (200 yen per person) and if we could we’d be going round and round until all the trees lose blossoms. But since we had two hungry cats waiting for us at home, and I ran out of 100 yen coins, it wasn’t really a viable option.
Despite all my hatred of zoos, at the end of the day, I had to admit that the zoo had probably the most beautiful sakura in all of Tochigi. Will I return there? Only during hanami and only if I don’t have to look at the animals. And you can bet your hamster that along with spending 1000 yen for the ticket, I will make a donation to the WWF (and I don't mean the World Wrestling Federation here).