Entrance to Kumamoto Zoo in 2013  (Yoshida N)


Location:  Kumamoto City Zoological and Botanical Gardens

Address:  5-14-2 Kengun, Higashi Ward, Kumamoto, 862-0911, Japan

Telephone:  +81 (0)96-368-4416

Email:  explorekumamoto@gmail.com

Website:  http://www.ezooko.jp/one_html3/pub/default.aspx?c_id=22

Exhibit: Not named


Maruru (female).  Born 8 December 2012 in Sapporo Maruyama Zoo, Hokkaidō, Japan.  Arrived at Kumamoto 3 March 2014.


In 2006 the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) reported that Kumamoto Zoo’s polar bear enclosure “failed to meet the minimum enclosure design requirements stated in the Province of Manitoba (Canada) Polar Bear Protection Act 2003 and the zoo do not appear to satisfy the Act’s basic husbandry requirements”.  Sadly, other than a change of the single occupant, little if anything appears to have altered.

The exhibit consists of an open air enclosure of the bear-pit type.  Over half of the area is taken up by the pool, leaving little dry land for the present single occupant.  The total area is around 88 square metres (950 square feet).  The dry area is around 33 square metres (355 square feet) and only 3 metres (40 feet) wide.  This makes for an appallingly cramped environment for Maruru.

No long views or vistas are available for the bear and ambient noise is loud and constant with continuous running water.

As in 2006 it seems that there are no soft substrates with the entire enclosure floored with concrete.  Unsurprisingly, given the very small size of the enclosure, there is only minimal provision for shade.  The bear has no access to any off exhibit areas or shelter away from the public.


  1. The area available falls far short of the Manitoba standard (which in itself is, we believe, inadequate)
  2. The facility is old and out of date, harking back to the “dark ages” of zoos.  As well as being very small it also lacks:
    – Shelter from sun and rain.
    – Relief from heat and humidity.
    – Soft substrates / areas for digging.
    – Visual barriers/private areas to avoid the public.
    – Furniture/climbing structures.
    – Movable enrichment devices for play and manipulation.
    – Access to off-exhibit areas.
    – Views and vistas.
  3.  We expect the zoo to consider a captive breeding programme as Maruru reaches maturity.

This exhibit should be closed down and Maruru transferred to a modern, spacious facility.

We have no information on the feeding, exercise, medical and enrichment regimes at Kumamoto.

The video below was published on 4 December 2015 and shows Maruru swimming around her barren enclosure playing with plastic objects.

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Page updated 19 October 2020