“Penguin Walk” is an icon of winter in Asahiyama Zoo. You can see the lively penguins closely! This event is so popular attracting numbers of people every day. I will introduce tips about when and where to watch Penguin Walk!
When is Penguin Walk held?
“Penguin Walk” in Asahiyama Zoo is conducted during the winter season when there is snow. Usually from the end of December to mid-March, two times a day; from 11:00 AM and 2:30 PM. (One time in a day in March)
▲Check the latest information on the official website or bulletin boards in the zoo!
The detailed schedule depends on penguins’ health condition and timing of the replacement of wings with new growth, so starting date and ending date differs each year. Furthermore, sometimes two times a day is reduced to one time. Whether if it will be operated or not is decided in the morning each day. We should accept this since we are dealing with nature and animals.
▲Some penguins walk, and some penguins slip. They look like acting as they like!
By the way, we got a lot of snow in 2016, so Penguin Walk started earlier than usual, from 10th December 2016.
Why do penguins walk?
“Penguin Walk” is not a “show” to make penguins walk for people, it is an “exercise” time for penguins which uses its habits.
▲King penguin in “Penguin-Kan (Penguin House)”, waiting for the start of the walk.
The kind of penguins walk in Asahiyama Zoo is “king penguin” which live in islands of Antarctica. King penguins have a habit to walk towards the sea in a group to catch fish, and they sometimes walk as far as about one kilometer.
Penguins in Asahiyama Zoo can not get enough exercise by staying in their house. So Asahiyama Zoo uses their habit and makes penguins walk inside the zoo so that they could get enough exercise.
▲“We are exercising now, in middle of walking!”
The more interesting thing is that wild king penguins have a habit of walking straight if there are snow mountains or ice mountains between them.
During “Penguin Walk”, people line up along the path of penguins. To penguins, people look like snow mountains or ice mountains. Penguins are not trained to walk in between people; they just follow their habit to walk straight in a group.
▲Zookeepers do not “take” penguins. Penguins walk straight by themselves.
There are 17 king penguins in Asahiyama Zoo (January 2017). On some days, all 17 penguins go for a walk, but on some days, not all of them go out. Also, sometimes different kind of penguins such as Gentoo Penguins joins the walk.
Zookeepers do not select the penguins; this is according to penguin’s will, health condition, and mood.
▲Is he not in the mood to walk? Or is he playing? Penguins show us various poses.
Where to watch “Penguin Walk”?
“Penguin Walk” is operated at the course of about 500 meters round trip, starts and come back to “Penguin-Kan (Penguin House)” which is located in the center of the zoo. After they leave “Penguin-Kan (Penguin House), they pass the back of “Azarashi-Kan (Seal House)”, turn around at the study hall and take a route that is lower than the first path and goes back to “Penguin-Kan (Penguin House)”.
▲The walking course is shown on the bulletin board in the zoo.
There are red lines on the sides of the path and visitors can watch the penguins from outside of the lines. This is a popular event, and it is common to attract many visitors and people on the first row are supposed to squat down. So it is easy to watch even if you are in the second row.
▲There are red lines on the sides of the route for penguins. After penguin finished walking, the human is enjoying walking, too…
Visitors can watch from anywhere unless they are not in the red line. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to finish walking but the time depends on the penguins. Sometimes, they take just 30 minutes, and on the other times, they need about an hour to finish walking.
▲This is the route to go back, so there are not many people yet, but there are many people on the route of the first half!
Penguin Walk starts either from 11:00 AM or 2:30 PM and lasts at least 30 minutes, so if you wait somewhere along the 500 meters course, you are assured of watching cute penguins walk in front of you.
Is there any best timing or best spot to watch the penguins?
I would like to recommend the timing of start.
The zookeepers start explaining about the penguins in front of “Penguin-Kan (Penguin House)” from 10 to 15 minutes before the starting time, so there are many people along the route near the “Penguin-Kan (Penguin House)”. Those of you who want to visit Asahiyama Zoo to watch “Penguin Walk” should check out!
▲People cheered “oh my!” “too cute!” right after penguins come out. Penguins looked like celebrities.
However, few zookeepers walk together with the penguins and explain about the penguins again as they proceed. Even if you could not listen to the explanation at the start, you still get chances to listen in the middle of the course, so planning to wait somewhere else to avoid crowds is a good idea, too.
▲If you wait in the middle of the course, you can see penguins closely!
Other than this, there are three great view spots chosen by me, Hokkaido Likers nobu Kawashima.
The first one is the curb point after they pass the back of “Azarashi-kan (Seal House)”.
You can see the penguins walk between the people from the front.
▲Penguins from the front! If you have a zoom lens, you can take a close picture.
The second spot is the turning point near the study hall.
This is also a great spot to watch penguins from the front, but there is a slight slope here. There is a good chance to watch penguins slip using their bellies!
▲You can watch penguins walk or slip as they like.
The third spot is in front of “Kaba-Kan (Hippopotamus House)”.
This place is in between the slopes so visitors can stand only on one side. So You can take a picture without people even if you are watching them from the side.
▲Hokkaido Likers staff took a video!
▲Also, you can watch the whole group from the top of the slope.
Of course, you can still watch cute penguins from the spots other than above. Please find your favorite spot.
If you are going to Asahiyama Zoo in winter, you should not miss “Penguin Walk”! Watch the cutest penguins and make great memories!