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All Life In a Viable Environment

5-18-10-102, Honkomagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0021

Anti Vivisection Action Network




Prepared by Dr. John Gripper (July 1996)

All Life In a Viable Environment (ALIVE) is a non-profit citizens organization made up of people who, in recognition of the fact that all life on Earth forms part of a single ecology, are alert to the suffering of wild animals, experimental animals, stock-bred animals, etc., and who are working to tackle a wide range of problems that confront animals today. In our efforts to eliminate animal abuse and prevent the spread of industries that exploit animals cruelly or commit violence against life, we gather and supply information, organize campaigns and attempt to engage public opinion. In addition, we are working to ensure the passage of effective legislation concerning animal welfare and protection in Japan.

All Life In a Viable Environment (ALIVE)

The Born Free Foundation (BFF), based in England, has been working since 1984 to reform the conditions in zoos worldwide. BFF has been o pioneer in exposing the psychological distress of many captive animals. The organization also played a leading role in helping to bring an end to captive dolphin industry in the United Kingdom. Besides its work with zoos, BFF has a number of educational programs aimed at empowering people to protect species in the world.

Born Free Foundation

This report was authored by Dr. John Gripper who was commissioned by ALIVE and BFF but acted as an independent contractor. Therefore, the report is Dr. Gripper's opinion, and ALIVE and BFF disclaim any inaccuracies.

Forword: Classification of inspected zoos (by F. Nogami, ALIVE)

Japanese Zoos is a report by Dr. John Gripper, a British wildlife veterinarian and a zoo inspector for the British Government. In July 1996, at the request of the Japan-based NGO ALIVE in cooperation with the British-based Born Free Foundation, Dr. Gripper visited Japan and carried out inspections at ten zoological gardens.

The zoos inspected by Dr. Gripper can be classified broadly into three types:

  1. Zoos run by local governments and supported by the taxpayer.
  2. Ueno Zoo and Tennoji Zoo are both municipal zoos located in the large cities. Both have have greater financial resources compared with zoos run by most other local governments, and so they have carried out a number of recent improvements.
  3. Odawara Zoo is a small zoo in which animal cages are dotted here and there in a park surrounding a castle. Himeji Zoo is inside Himeji Castle which is a designated World Heritage Site and a National Treasure. These two facilities are typical of the traditional zoo in which cage space is narrow and abnormal animal behavior can be routinely observed.
  4. Zoos run by private corporations (mainly railway and tourism companies )
  5. The Japanese Monkey Center is a zoo exclusively for monkeys and other primates which is run by the Nagoya Railway Company, Ltd. This zoo collects nineteen species of primates from around the world. In addition, it takes in unwanted primates from other zoos and supplies them to colleges and pharmaceutical companies for experimentation involving vivisection.
  6. Takarazuka Zoo is run by the Hankyu Railway Company, Ltd. It is located inside the company's amusement park, Takarazuka Family Land.
  7. Enoshima Aquarium is Japan's oldest marine zoo and the first to begin dolphin shows. The facilities are old and the marine mammals are enclosed in extremely small tanks.

  8. Zoos run by individuals or families.
  9. Petland Himeji is a facility run by a couple. They engage in the breeding, buying and selling of small animals and they keep and exhibit animals whose owners are no longer able to keep them. There are too many animals for the space available and the animals are neglected and uncared for.
  10. Shirotori Animal Land is a zoo run by a family and specializes in performances of dogs, monkeys, goats, tigers and lions. Fierce animals kept at this facility have their nails and fangs removed. The animals' cages are extremely small and their living environment is poor.
  11. Yoshikawa Shokai, a dealer in wild animals, imports, sells, transports and keeps zoo animals. The cages in which the animals are kept are extremely cramped. Yoshikawa also holds monkeys and other animals that are surplus to the requirements of zoos.

Towards the establishment of a legal framework for animal welfare in Japan, there is a statute entitled 'Standards Relating to the Keeping and Custody of Animals for Exhibition, etc., 1976' which is based on 'The Law Concerning the Protection and Control of Animals, 1973'. However, neither these standards nor the law itself includes regulations relating to animal welfare and there are no regulations whatsoever governing the activities of animal dealers. At present in Japan, many of the people engaged in animal breeding, sales, trading and keeping are maintaining their animals in very poor conditions and as a matter of conscience the situation cannot be ignored any longer. Also in Japan there are no laws to protect wild marine mammals that are considered to be marine resources or harmful pests, and under this situation approximately 20,000 dolphins are caught each year. Of these animals, several hundred are sold to marine parks or leisure facilities each year where they are kept without exception in very small tanks.

We urge both local governments and the Japanese national government to take immediate and effective administrative measures toward abolishing such practices and ensuring animal welfare and protection.

Toward the closure or improvement of substandard zoos: as a result of the inspection undertaken by Dr. Gripper, the extremely poor conditions that prevail at many Japanese zoos have become clear and will be publicized internationally. Many facilities are simply show tents to which no improvements worth mentioning have been made in decades. The animals placed in these facilities don?t receive the basic care that they require as living beings and as a result they live and die in miserable circumstances.

We will endeavor to bring the appalling conditions in which many zoo animals are kept to the attention of as many people as possible, and stress to Japanese society its basic responsibility to recognize and respect the dignity of life.

List of zoos

  1. Enoshima Aquarium, Enoshima.
  2. Himeji Zoo
  3. Japan Monkey Centre, Inuyama
  4. Odwara Zoo, Odwara City
  5. Pet Land
  6. Shirotori Animal Land
  7. Tennoji Zoo, Osaka
  8. Takarazuka Familyland
  9. Ueno Zoo, Tokyo
  10. Yosikawa-Syokai. Animal Dealer
  11. EAZA Standards for the accommodation and care of animals in zoos.


During this inspection of zoos in Japan it was decided to concentrate on those aspects of the zoos that can be seen by the public, supplemented by information supplied by the zoo director and his staff.

This report will cover enclosures, safety and security, animal welfare, environmental enrichment, education and conservation but will not include comments on veterinary care, staffing, management, feeding or record keeping.

I would like to acknowledge the help and assistance I received during this tour and study of zoos from Una Trueblood and Virginia McKenna from the Born Free Foundation.

The itinerary was organised by Alive, the Japanese animal welfare group. I was accompanied throughout my visit by members of this group and would like to thank Fusako Nogami, Kitawura Takashi and Taeko Nagai, Hatsuo Matsumara, Mary Corbett, Ayako Minami, Kumiko Tabuchi, Mr & Mrs Yamamoto, Elizabeth Oliver, Nogami and Funahashi and especally to Kazou Kawakami who met me at Tokyo airport and accompanied me for the whole week. I must acknowledge their determination in completing a heavy schedule successfully in hot weather.

Animal welfare legislation


The law in Japan covering the protection and control of animals is Law No. 105, October 1973.

The purpose of this law is to prevent cruelty to animals, the appropriate treatment of animals and the protection of animals.

The Fundamental principle is set out in Article 2: 'All people must not only refrain from killing, injuring, and inflicting cruelty upon animals, but they must also treat animals properly, taking their natural habitats into account.'

The Animal Protection Council should be established as an advisory organ of the Prime Ministers Office.

There is a section entitled 'Standards relating to the keeping and custody of animals for exhibition - (notification No 7 February 10 1976)'. However, this section is of a general nature and does not set any standards or inspection procedure within the legislation for the keeping of wild life in zoos.

Article No 13 states that 'Any person who cruelly treats or who abandons a protected animal shall be liable to a fine or minor fine of not more than (Y30,000).'

There appears to be no special animal legislation in regard to pet shops or for quarentine for the import of wild animals.

European Association of Zoo's and Aquaria (EAZA)

This is a voluntary group of zoos within Europe and membership can either by affiliate (non voting) or full membership (full voting).

There is a set of EAZA standards which are enclosed as an appendix to this report but there would appear to be no inspection of individual zoos prior to acceptance for membership of EAZA.

Japanese Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquarium (JAZGA)

This is a voluntary group of zoos within Japan to which 180 zoos have joined. New members receive an inspection visit.

In December 1976 there was published by JASGA a set of ?Guidelines for the keeping of animals for display purposes,

However, these guidelines set very small standards of enclosure signs and are now outdated. Examples of the enclosure sizes were: Bears: 4 x 4 x 3 meters, Lion: 3 x 4 x 3 meters, Hyena: 2 x 3 x 3 meters, Gorilla: 5 x 5 x 3 meters.


In the U.K., the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 does not apply to zoos but requires individuals to obtain a licence for keeping a dangerous wild animal.

In 1984, The Zoo Licensing Act was introduced which brought all zoo collections under an inspection and licensing system. Following the introduction of this Zoo Licensing Act, many substandard zoos have closed down, and there was an improvement in the standards of the remaining zoos.

It is expected that there will be a similar European Zoo Licensing Act within the countries of the European Union.

There is a separate Pet Shop Act whereby local authorities are responsible for the inspection and licensing of pet shops for the sale of animals.


There are no international laws governing the possession and/or public display of wildlife, though trade in endangered species is controlled through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).



An enclosure is defined as any accommodation provided for animals in zoos. Standards for the accommodation and care of animals in zoos have been set out in June 1994 by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.


This report sets the following standards for Accommodation - Space, Exercise and grouping:

  • Animals to be provided with an environment, space and furniture sufficient to allow such exercise as is needed for the welfare of the particular species.
  • Enclosures to be of a sufficient size and animals so managed:

    to avoid animals within herds or groups being unduly dominated by individuals.

    to avoid the persistent and unresolved conflict between herd or group members or between different species in mixed exhibits.

    to ensure that the physical carrying capacity of the enclosure is not over burdened.

    to prevent an unacceptable build-up of parasites and other pathogens.

  • Animals, not to be unnaturally provoked for the benefit of the viewing public.
  • Animals in visibly adjoining enclosures to be those which do not interact in an excessively stressful way.
  • Separate accommodation for pregnant animals and animals with young to be available, if necessary, in the interests of avoiding unnecessary stress or suffering.
  • Animals in outdoor encloses to be provided with sufficient shelter from inclement weather or excessive sunlight where this is necessary for their comfort and wellbeing.

There is a need in any enclosure for the animal to be able to retreat from the visiting public, from cage mates or from some negative environmental factors (Lawrence Curtis, Oklahoma City Zoo).

Enclosures which become rusty or corroded, in addition to being a danger to the animals, have the potential for breakage, thereby allowing for the escape of the animals (AZA Accreditation Standards).

Many of the zoos which I visited in Japan had enclosures that were too small in size.

Safety and security

Guardrails/barriers must be constructed in all areas where the visiting public could have contact with other than handleable animals.

The advice given in the EAZA standards goes into further details about the need for enclosure barriers and stand off barriers.

There should also be a perimeter fence which should surround the whole zoo.

These measures are designed to avoid injury to members of the public and also prevent escape of wild animals.

Some of the zoos in Japan had no stand off barriers between hazardous animals and the public or barriers that were not fully childproof.

Animal welfare


Some scientists equate animal welfare with biological fitness, claiming that welfare is only reduced if the animal's inability to survive and reproduce is impaired.

However Broom (1991) argues that although physical condition is important, an animal's welfare may also be poor in the absence of physical problems for example if the animal is frightened, anxious, frustrated or bored. Other researchers have distinguished between physical animal health and animal suffering caused by an unpleasant mental state.

Assessing welfare is relatively simple for those who think that breeding and physical health are the definitive measures to use. The measurement is less easy for these who believe that an animal's feelings are a more important determinate of its welfare.

The interpretation of animal welfare and suffering involves a subjective judgement based on observation and knowledge of normal animal behaviour.

Stereotypic behaviour


Abnormal or stereotypic behaviour is an indication of chronic suffering caused by frustration, boredom, depression and anxiety (Lawrence and Rushen).

Broom has defined a stereotype as a repeated, relatively invariate sequence of movements that has no obvious purpose. Stereotypic behaviour may take the form of pacing, circling and head weaving and self mutilation.

Orienting consists of movements of the head and/or the whole body which direct the sensory organs towards a perceived goal or stimulus. Behaviourial fixation or vacuum activity is a form of immobile posture.

Throughout my inspection of zoos in Japan I saw many examples of stereotypic behaviour in captive animals, especially those in small cages or enclosures.

Public feeding


Zoo animals require to be fed special diets prepared under hygienic conditions and scientifically designed for individual needs within each species. This is not possible when indiscriminate feeding of animals by the public is permitted.

Furthermore there is a danger from public feeding that poisonous or hazardous items will be given to the animals such as coins, cigarettes, silver paper and plastic bags.

Uncontrolled feeding by visitors is not permitted. Food and drink provided for animals to be of the nutritive and quantity required for the a particular species and for individual animals within each species (EAZA).

The majority of zoos in Japan did not permit feeding of the animals by the public.

Environmental enrichment


Whilst the quantity of space can be considered a core requirement in the housing of all captive animals, attention paid to methods or systems for environmental and/or behavioral enrichment of the animals surroundings plays an essential role in providing a high quality of space. Quantity and quality of space act synergistically to satisfy the physical and psychological needs of the captive animal. Enclosure design and placement, building materials, cage furnishings and daily management can be critical in the elimination or mitigation of welfare problems manifested by stereotypic behaviour patterns.

The goal of any enrichment tactic is twofold: first, it provides an animal with power or the ability to make a choice in its daily routine; and secondly, it provides a means by which an animal can express a facet of its natural behaviour. The enrichment or enhancement of a captive environment should take into consideration the nature of the subject species and the personality of the individual animal(s).

What is now often thought of as enrichment began when we moved beyond the sterile cage to the naturalistic habitat. If such a habitat is sensitively and appropriately designed and maintained from the outset, little more in the way of enrichment may be needed. However numerous situations exist where enrichment modifications are in order to make up for the flaws or shortcomings of typical captive accommodations.

Environmental enrichment can be carried out by the management of husbandry procedures such as variations in the feeding regimes such as:

  • Random feeding times
  • Frequency of daily feeds
  • Varying amount of food fed
  • Feeding methods i.e scatter feeding to encourage foraging
  • Varying food types fed
  • Enrichment can also be implemented by improvements to the lay out of the enclosures:
  • Change of enclosure
  • Change of lay out
  • Introduction of natural habitat i.e tree trunks, branches climbing frames, shrubs, wood piles, nesting areas, straw, water pools.
  • Introduction of devices such as swings, bungee rubbers, ropes, toys, bars and tires.

Many of the animal exhibits and enclosures in the zoos in Japan that I visited had a barren environment and there was a poor understanding of modern enrichment procedures.



Education should be an important and integral function of all zoos and is part of the justification for keeping wild animals in captivity.

However if the animals on display are not in a state of well being or are in substandard accommodation or enclosures then a negative message is portrayed to the public. For this reason all zoos must move towards more naturalistic exhibits.

Education is more than just putting up a sign with the name of the species outside the cage. More detailed information should be displayed about the exhibits and this should be supplemented by hand out literature and informative guide books, pro-active audio visual aids and educational programmes for children.

About half of the zoos I visited in Japan had good educational notices and information on display and some also had full time educational staff with special lecture and teaching rooms for school children.


The Rio Summit, The Convention on Biological Diversity and the recently amended 'mission statement' of IUCN, all have one objective at the centre of their agenda which may be summarised as follows: the conservation and sustainable management of natural ecosystems and the wild species that inhabit them.

The role of ex situ conservation programmes through captive breeding of endangered species in zoos and reintroduction back to the wild has been of limited success.

The future of successful conservation programmes is international habitat based where the natural ecosystem is preserved and supported by the local people, this may have to be supported by in-situ captive breeding.

The international conservation programmes carried out worldwide have been based on captive breeding of endangered species. More involvement by zoos is needed in overseas field projects and research involving the protection of the local habitat.

The value to conservation of poor standard zoos with uncontrolled breeding of common species is NIL.


A consideration of the standards set by the U.K.Licensing Act in relation to my inspection of zoos in Japan showed that, of the nine zoos visited, only three attained the necessary standard.

The three zoos that passed the standards subject to compliance with the recommendations were: Japan Monkey Centre, Inuyama, Tennoji Zoo, Osaka, Ueno Zoo, Tokyo.


  • All captive wild animals must be kept in a manner that ensures the animals wellbeing and addresses the physical, behavioral, psychological, nutritional and social needs. Captive wild animals must be housed in environments that stimulate the widest possible repertoire of natural behaviour.
  • Zoo Licensing legislation should be introduced that would require the State to inspect and licence wild animals in zoos, circuses, traders and those kept in private collections.
  • The zoo industry must have mandatory procedures for the humane disposal of any surplus animals which prohibits zoos or dealers passing on animals directly or through an intermediary to substandard zoos, research laboratories, private individuals or circuses.
  • The JAZGA guidelines should be updated and all zoos should be encouraged to raise their standards of accommodation and animal care to achieve the international standards set by EAZA.
  • The Japan Association for Zoological Gardens and Aquarium (JAZGA) and its accredited members should take active responsibility for improving the conditions of all zoological gardens, regardless of the membership status. This effort should include setting standards for zoos, teaching modern methods of maintaining captive wild animals, developing educational programmes and working with appropriate regulatory bodies and animal protection groups to ensure the proper care of animals in zoos.
  • Japan should have strict quarantine regulations for the isolation and testing for zoonotic diseases of all wildlife imported into the country - especially primates that need to be tested zoonotic diseases such as tuberculosis, ebola virus, B virus and salmonella.
  • There should be legislation and strict control with inspection of all wildlife animal dealers and traders to ensure that the animals they are keeping and transporting are handled in a humane manner.
  • There should be enforcement of article 13 of the Law for the Protection of Animals in respect of State prosecution and fines for cruelty to animals with the option to ban individuals from keeping animals.


  • A.Z.A, Accreditation Standardization Guidelines, December 1994
  • Broom D.M., 1991 Animal Welfare, Concepts and Measurement, Journal of Animal Science
  • CAZPA, 1994 Standards for Animal Care and Housing
  • EAZA, 1994 Standards for the accommodation and care of animals in zoos
  • Lawrence & Rushen, Stereotypic Behaviour, CAB International
  • The Zoo Inquiry 1995 World Society for the Protection of Animals and Born Free Foundation
  • Tufts University Centre for Animals 1995 discussion paper by Jennifer Lewis on wildlife conservation, zoos and animal protection
  • Young. R. Dr., Environmental Enrichment: Management and Devices--Edinburgh Zoo
  • Zoo Licensing Act 1981, HMSO U.K.
  • Zoo Licensing Act 1988, The Secretary of State's standards of modern zoo practice

Author of Report

Dr John Gripper is a veterinarian who has spent over 30 years in general practice in the U.K. During this time he was a wildlife vet at the Cotswold Wildlife Park, Burford, Oxfordshire.

He has been an appointed zoo inspector in the U.K. since the Zoo Licensing Act came into operation in 1984.

He is a Director for the World Society for the Protection of Animals and a member of their Zoo Task Force. He has advised WSPA on the construction of bear sanctuaries in Greece and Turkey.

On behalf of WSPA and the Born Free Foundation he has visited zoos in many countries around the world including Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Monaco, Romania, Russia, Siberia, Slovakia, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, U.S.A. and Zimbabwe.

He is Chairman and founder of the Sebakwe Black Rhino Trust which supports a free range black rhino conservancy in the Midlands area of Zimbabwe.