The onsen were very interesting and made some great pictures. However, their charm was completely overshadowed by the disgust I felt on seeing the animals in the small, run-down zoo in Yama Jigoku and Oni Jigoku. All the animals were on their own, with very little space to move around, and no enrichment whatsoever. The animals seemed to be in OK physical condition but they were obviously all suffering from complete lack of interaction and comfort. There was a Japanese monkey, living completely by itself in a concrete cage. It was obviously distressed, as it was rocking backwards and forwards, as if it was going mad from isolation. Monkeys are very sociable creatures; they thrive on social interaction, and to keep this monkey permanently on its own is horridly cruel. There was also a hippopotamus, again, completely on its own in a very small enclosure. The African elephant’s enclosure was also completely inadequate; living by itself in a tiny concrete block, with no soft resting space. This is a snowy area in winter but none of the mammals had warm or soft areas to rest, their enclosures were made of concrete and nothing else. Oni Jigoku was almost as shocking, with hundreds of crocodiles either lying on top of each other or in their own concrete enclosure. According to reviews I have read online, the zookeeper routinely hoses the crocodiles with water in order to get them to fight with each other. The other tourists visiting that day seemed only mildly interested in the zoo. I left the Jigoku feeling depressed and worried for the animals.
I've written a letter to the owners of the attraction and have filed a report with the Born Free Foundation.
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