|Date opened||July 1967|
|Location||Asahikawa, Hokkaidō, Japan|
|Annual visitors||3,000,000 (2007)|
The Asahiyama Zoo (旭山動物園 Asahiyama dōbutsuen ) is a municipal zoo opened in July 1967 in Asahikawa, Hokkaidō, Japan, and is the northernmost zoo in the country. In August 2004, over 320,000 people visited the zoo, the second highest number of visitors among all the zoos in Japan. Located in Higashi Asahikawa, on the outskirts of Asahikawa, the Asahiyama Zoo is accredited by the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA).
The Maruyama Zoo in Sapporo, and the Obihiro Zoo predate the construction of the Asahiyama Zoo. In 1964, the mayor at the time, Kōzō Igarashi, budgeted for the Asahiyama Zoo project, and chose Mount Asahi as the building site due to its geology and traffic convenience. Construction of the Asahiyama Zoo began in April 1966, and was completed in June 1967, at a total expense of 250 million yen. The zoo was inaugurated on July 1, 1967, with 75 species of animals including 200 common carp. Driven by a decline in visitors, the park erected a steel roller coaster which was dismantled in 2006.
As the population of Asahikawa has increased, the number of visitors rose to a peak of 597,000 in 1983. In 1994, when a western lowland gorilla and a ring-tailed lemur in the zoo died of an echinococcus infection, the zoo was closed before the regular season to prevent the disease from spreading. This resulted in a decline in the number of visitors.
Since 1997, the zoo has undertaken the construction of unique interactive animal viewing facilities, initiated by chief manager Masao Kosuge. After "Totori no Mura" (Totori's Village), which enables visitors to see birds flying freely in a huge cage, the zoo continued to install new facilities including Polar Bear Aquatic Park, a "walk- through" penguin aquarium, an orangutan trapeze, and a seal aquarium which includes a vertical tube through which the seals can swim.
In August 2004, the monthly number of visitors exceeded 320,000, which surpassed Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. In 2006, the annual number of visitors reached 2 million, and the following year, the number was 3 million, which was surpassed only by the Ueno Zoo (about 3.5 million people in the same year). Over the years, the Asahiyama Zoo has drawn a number of media attractions, and some TV programs and publications featuring the zoo's success have also been created.
- "List of Zoos". jazga.or.jp. Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- "Japan's Northernmost Zoo a Big Hit". web-japan.org. Nipponia. Retrieved 2010-10-10.
- "Trends in Japan: GOING WILD, Action Takes Center Stage at Hokkaido Zoo". web-japan.org. Web Japan. Archived from the original on 16 June 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- Kenji, Furutachi, 旭山動物園物語 (Story of Asahiyama Zoo), Juritsu-Sha, 2005, ISBN 4-901769-40-5
- Masao, Kosuge, 「旭山動物園」革命 ("Asahiyama Zoo" Revolution), Kadokawa Shoten, 2006, ISBN 4-04-710037-4