I really like Giant Pandas so it made perfect sense to incorporate a trip to Adventure World into our Japanese holiday. See Adventure World is home to the largest “family” of Giant Panda outside of China. At the time of writing (and our visit) 7 were living there.
It’s not all about the Pandas though with the park being a hybrid of theme park and zoo. During our visit the persistent rain kept visitor numbers down and we didn’t explore the whole park.
On the 10th of May 2016 we made our way to Adventure World in the town of Shirahama. Adventure World is home to the largest Panda “family” outside of China and has had considerable success with breeding Giant Pandas over the years. If there’s one place in the world where you can have Panda moments this is it!
By now I’m sure every reader is familiar with my love for the Giant Panda. So with a trip to Japan coming up it’s only natural that I seek out the Pandas of Japan or JaPandas (I’m pretty sure that’ll stick as a name).
Can’t get to Shirahama? There’s Pandas at Kobe and Tokyo too!
Pandas in Shirahama / Wakayama
Initially I found it a little odd that despite Japan having a massive number of Giant Pandas in Zoos the majority are held by one park in a more “remote” area of Japan. To clarify while the Wakayama region is a known domestic tourist location it’s probably not on the itinerary of many foreign tourists.
Wakayama Adventure World is a combination Amusement Part and Zoo in Shirahama that can be easily accessed by Air from Tokyo or by the plentiful Rail and Bus services (typically from Osaka).
Here in Adventure world 8 pandas live healthily. This is the biggest Panda family through the world except for China.(Yuhin left for his parents’ native country, China on June 21, 2004 and Ryuhin & Shuhin left on October 27, 2007, Kohin left on March 15, 2010 to comply with request by China Zoo Association.) Our Giant Pandas breeding and preservation research program has been bearing fruit steadily in an ideal rearing environment.
Pandas I have seen previously: 2 (Ying Ying & Le Le)
Pandas I will see next: 6 (Xing Xing, Liang Liang, Kai Kai, Jia Jia, Wang Wang & Funi)
That will take my tally to 8/49 of the Pandas living outside of China – and perhaps 0.4% of all Pandas in existence (based on middle estimates of Panda population).
Giant Panda & Why I like them…
“Pandas, mate why are you so fascinated by Pandas?” I get asked this all the time (well ok I’ve been asked once), and I thought I’d explain.
I was born in 1975, by the time the early 1980’s rolled around I was old enough to watch and understand the documentaries on the fate of Pandas in the wild. At the time Pandas in captivity wasn’t really a “done thing” and in the wild they were “rare”. The WWF (Not the Wrestling mob) had kicked conservation efforts in gear and raised the profile of the Panda and so this young impressionable kid in Sawtell/Toormina thought he’d never see a live Panda, ever.
For me the ability to see a real live Panda (even if in captivity) represents in one tiny way just how life can change, and just how things we thought we’d never do/see can still happen.
The Pandas for me also serve as a reminder to take the opportunity to do things when the opportunity arises, to do while I can, not complain when I can no longer.
So yes that’s the Panda story.
Giant Panda I have seen:
2012 – Ocean Park Hong Kong. I’m fairly sure I trekked the whole park but I only recall seeing two Panda despite there being supposedly 4 in the Park. I will have to check the pictures more carefully to ensure I’m not missing any!