The raccoon dog is an existing animal! Let’s go to Zoorasia to see Japan’s native animals!
“Yokohama Zoo Zoorasia” located in Yokohama City is one of the largest zoos in Japan. It opened in April, 1999. The zoo is divided into 8 zones according to habitats of animals and climates. More than 100 species live on the 45.3 hectare site.
Now, we introduce one of 8 zones, “Mountain village of Japan”. Among various animals living in that zone, this time we pick up raccoon dogs which have become popular on the Internet.
What kind of place is “Mountain village of Japan”?
Mountain village of Japan” zone situated in Zoorasia was created under the image of mountains and forests arranged by people, where animals familiar to Japan since ancient times are grown and exhibited.
There are nine animals including raccoon dogs, the main cast this time, and Japanese macaque, Hondogitsune, and Nihon badger.
Japanese macaque is known as snow monkey. In some cases, you may have a look at baby monkeys.
This is Hondogitsune. This animal which often appears in Japan’s old tales like raccoon dogs has been familiar to Japanese people.
Nihon badgers exhibited next to raccoon dogs usually stay in the holes during the daytime, but they sometimes show up like this.
Each exhibition area is designed to reproduce each animal’s natural habitats so that visitors can feel as if watching wild animals in a zoo.
But it may not be easy to find these animals instead. I recommend that you visit them at the time when they are likely to move more actively, or wait patiently for them to show up.
Raccoon dogs live close to human beings.
Well, here they are, raccoon dogs!
Raccoon dogs fed in Zoorasia are officially named Hondotanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs) which live in Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu in Japan.
As they are unfamiliar to foreign countries, especially western countries, they were a topic on SNS. Some people say raccoon dogs are so cute, and others are surprised that they are existing animals.
They are sometimes confused with raccoons, but they are totally different since raccoon dogs are classified as Canidae, and raccoons as Procyonidae. If you cannot find differences, please focus on their tails. Raccoon tails have a striped pattern, and raccoon dog tails have no pattern.
As raccoon dogs often appears in old tales and children’s songs in Japan, even children know them. Raccoon dogs have been very familiar to Japanese people.
As they live near people, it is not so unusual to see wild raccoon dogs within the sphere of human life.
It can be proved by the fact that two raccoon dogs, Maru and Dandan fed in Zoorasia have been protected in the zoo after having traffic accidents in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Many protected animals are released into the wild after recovery. However, these two raccoon dogs have stayed in the zoo because they had so severe aftereffects that it was difficult to release them into the wild.
To observe raccoon dogs in Zoorasia
These two male raccoon dogs appear in the exhibition area every day. They don’t appear in the exhibition area at the same time. They change places to stay at noon alternately, so visitors are able to have a look at either of them.
They are not as big as elephants and giraffes, and they don’t live in open areas like elephants and giraffes. Moreover, they sometimes hide themselves in space which visitors cannot see, and take a nap for a long time. If you would like to see raccoon dogs move actively, visit them first thing in the morning. Or it is also good to watch them after 3 o’clock in the afternoon as they often become active.
You can also see it when it changes places to stay with another. Whether you can see raccoon dogs or not may be dependent on your luck, because the timing to change places to stay differs every day according to the situation.
Actually, we took all pictures on this report in the morning and just after they replaced places to stay.
Speaking of pictures, we took pictures of raccoon dogs on this report in summer. The length and the thickness of their hair differ according to seasons. They start to grow long and thick winter coat in October and their body shapes become slimmer at from the middle of May to the hotter season.
If possible, I recommend that you compare its slim shape in summer with its fluffy and cute body in winter.
Two raccoon dogs in Zoorasia are given steamed sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, horsemeat and dog food. This canine animal is highly omnivorous, and eats various foods from meat to vegetables.
If you visit the exhibition area first thing in the morning, you may be able to watch them eating food. Although they don’t give food raccoon dogs in the exhibition area every day, it is a chance to observe them closely through glass if the conditions are met, for example there is no crow which tries to steal their food. Although it depends on the luck, it is good idea to visit their exhibition area first thing in the morning.
Raccoon dogs are the existing animals!
Although Japanese and Asian people know raccoon dogs well, people from Western countries who have never seen them before may feel that they are mysterious animals. It may be one way to enjoy the trip to observe Japan’s animals.
Those who have seen them only in movies and manga should visit Zoorasia to meet the real raccoon dogs. Then, you will realize that raccoon dogs are the existing animals!