While in Tokyo I though I’d test out the new telephoto zoom that Pentax has lent me for a few weeks. It’s got an impressive range from 55-300mm, HD coatings on the lens elements and a sturdy weather-proof construction. It’s also reasonably priced, it’s available from Amazon.com for around 400 dollars.
As my flight back to Okinawa was from Narita Airport, I decided to take the subway from Shinjuku to Ueno, then switch to the Keisei Skyliner express train.
Right next to the Keisei Ueno Station is the entrance to Ueno Zoo, and as I’d never been before, I thought I’d drop by for a couple of hours. The zoo offered plenty of opportunities to utilize the telephoto zoom.
I also tried out using burst mode, working on the theory that the shots in the middle of the burst are often sharper. The relatively small maximum aperture of f5.8 when shooting at 300mm was offset by increasing the ISO to 800 so that shutter speeds were kept fast.
Ueno Zoo is Japan’s oldest zoo, and in many ways it’s a relic of how zoos used to be. Located in the city center, it is a great opportunity for families to see animals that otherwise they’d only ever see on TV. As explained on the zoo’s website:
“Modern zoos are not only places for recreation and relaxation, but they give us an opportunity to learn about co-existence of life and harmony of nature. Zoos should also contribute to conservation of diminishing wildlife and preservation of endangered species.”
The problem is that if you are using zoos as a place to teach “co-existence of life and harmony of nature” then exhibiting a single individual of a species in a small cage / enclosure is not very good teaching methodology.
The above photograph of a captive hippopotamus crying may be an example of blatant anthropomorphism, but this is pretty far from living within a pod of other hippos in a vast African river.
One possible solution would be that city zoos such as Ueno specialize in groups of smaller species in larger enclosures. The lions, elephants, giraffes, and hippos would be better off at safari parks where they can roam over a much great area.
Really amazing photos Chris. They leave you wondering what these animals are thinking about…
Chris…great photos! I agree about zoos. They shouldn’t be about human entertainment but about species survival and serve as a genetic pool. I feel guilty that I don’t let my cats roam freely, except I know what happens to them if I do. Just saying.