Maja Hampson

Research, zoo keeping adventures, art, unicorns

I'm back from vacation! I love visiting zoos or aquariums when I'm in other countries because they are all so different. When my husband and I were in Japan we visited Nagoya Aquarium. The aquarium itself is huge, though not all of it is filled with displays. They had 2 species of dolphin, killer whales, belugas and penguins, amongst other little critters. I only caught the tail end of the beluga show, but the part I saw was full of play between the trainers and the belugas. There were three baby belugas as well. One of them was constantly trying to steal the show.

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Their dolphin show was amazing. I work at a zoo with a fairly limited budget so I'm easily impressed, but this show was something else. They have several dolphins preforming tricks at one time – there is always something to look at! One of the dolphins caught a Frisbee in mid air while others jumped nearly four stories high to reach an orange ball suspended above the pool and there was a huge monitor that displayed an instant reply of tricks you just watched!

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One thing I've never seen before, but it apparently very common throughout Japan, is descriptions next to fish enclosures detailing how one would go about preparing the fish that you are currently looking at. The cooking instructions at Nagoya aquarium aren't as prevalent as other aquariums, but the fact that this is considered common practice blew my mind. At least they had a conversation sign about tuna – even if it started with “It's delicious... but.” Another thing I found peculiar is that Japanese guests will often exclaim “that looks delicious” while standing in front of a fish enclosure. It's the equivalent of north Americans standing in front of a grazing cow and having our mouths start to water. I just don't understand it.

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The aquarium was really cool. I would recommend it if you're very in Nagoya. I've heard the Kyoto aquarium is fantastic as well and the Osaka aquarium is home to the world's largest fish tank. It houses two whale sharks! Hopefully I'll have a chance to visit Japan again and see more of their enclosures. (Uh oh, my zookeeper nerd is showing).

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