旭山動物園のあれこれ

標準

いまや、北海道旅行の人気スポットとなった旭山動物園。正式名称は旭川市旭山動物園。日本最北の動物園で、開園したのは、1967年7月1日。北海道では札幌の円山動物園、おびひろ動物園に次いで3番目に古い動物園です。どの地方都市にもありそうな市営動物園です。ではなぜ、こんなに注目と人気を集めているのでしょう?

動物が持つ習性を引き出す展示「行動展示」
パンダのような珍しい動物はいませんが、動物たちをただ檻に閉じ込めるのではなく、それぞれの習性に合わせた施設を用意しています。だからはつらつと生き生きしと動きまわる動物たちの姿を見ることができるのです。「ほっきょくぐま館」では深さのある大きなプールがあり、壁に窓が設置してあるので、プールへのダイビングなど迫力あるホッキョクグマの行動が観察できる仕掛けになっています。また半球状の透明ドーム「シールズアイ」が設けられていて、のしのし歩くホッキョクグマを目の前で見られます。
「ぺんぎん館」には、360度見学可能な水中トンネルがあります。トンネルの中に入ると、頭上をビュンビュン飛ぶペンギンが見られます。「ととりの村」 1997年に登場した巨大なバードケージ。外からカゴの鳥を眺めるのではなく、人間がかごの中に入ります。また鳥が飛び去らないよう羽の一部を切ることはせず、鳥が自然の姿で飛び交う生態を観察できるようになっています。「あざらし館」では、壁一面の透明アクリル板越しに水中を泳ぐ姿が見られます。さらに筒状のトンネルをあざらしが行き交う姿を360度から見渡せるのが、とっても面白いです。

旭山動物園は2期制
冬期開園と夏期開園がありそれぞれに魅力があります。

冬期開園 11月上旬~4月上旬
「雪の中の動物園」が楽しめる時期です。アザラシやペンギンホッキョクグマなどの生き生きした姿が見られるのがポイント。「シールズアイ」からは、雪の歩く様子をホッキョクグマの足元の目線で見ることができて迫力満点です。例年、12月中旬~3月中旬の期間限定開催される冬の風物詩「ペンギンの散歩」。雪の中をうれしそうによちよち歩くペンギンたちの姿がとっても可愛いです。
夏期開園 4月下旬~10月中旬
GWから10月中旬までが夏期開園となります。夏の旭山動物園では、涼しい北海道で暮らす動物たちが快適に見られます。

手書きの解説パネル
園内の案内パネルは、ほとんどが飼育員さんたちの手書きです。それぞれの動物を担当している飼育員さんが、動物たちのニュースや特徴、習性などイラストをまじえて作成しています。印刷された看板とは違い、飼育員さんたちの思いが自然と伝わってきます。

赤パネルと青パネル
赤パネルは動物の赤ちゃんが生まれたときや、ほかの動物園から新しい動物を迎えた時に、おめでとう、いらっしゃいと喜びを表すパネルです。 
青パネルは喪中のパネル。動物が亡くなった時に、北海道の青い空、青い海や山々、大自然に抱かれて安らかにと祈り死を悼むパネル。「今までありがとう」の思いが込められているそうです。

もぐもぐタイム、なるほどガイド
もぐもぐタイムは動物のお食事タイム。人気のもぐもぐタイムは30分以上前から行列ができる事もあります。ペンギンは水中と陸上で実施されていて、水中では飼育員さんがプールに潜ってエサを与えます。この様子を水槽の前から見学できるのです。陸上では飼育員さんが解説しながらペンギンにエサを与えます。ほっきょくぐま館では飼育員さんが屋上から解説しながらプールにエサを投げ入れます。
なるほどガイドは、飼育展示係が動物の深いところまでじっくりとお話するという、面白くてタメになる企画。毎日不定期で行われていて、どの動物のお話をするかはその日の朝に発表されます。

あべ弘士さんのイラスト
「あらしのよる」で知られる絵本作家のあべ弘士さんは、旭山動物園の職員でした。展示館の壁画、オオカミの森のパネルや園内の案内板のイラストや旭山動物園オリジナルグッズにも、あべさんの絵が使われています。

旭山動物園
住所:北海道旭川市東旭川町倉沼 TEL:0166-36-1104
料金:入園料 大人800円、中学生以下無料
営業時間:11月上旬~4月上旬(冬期)は10:30~15:30(最終入園は15:00)、
4月下旬~10月中旬(夏期)は9:30~17:15(最終入園は16:15)
定休日:年末年始を除き開園期間中は無休
アクセス:JR旭川駅からバスで約40分、終点下車すぐ
http://www5.city.asahikawa.hokkaido.jp/asahiyamazoo/

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