Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan

Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan

Maybe some of you now living outside Asia (probably somewhere in North America and Europe) thinks that squirrels are one of the cutest creatures on earth, and yet one of the considered pests (how awful is that?!), but in Japan, specifically in a quaint town of Machida, there is an old tiny zoo dedicated for this cute and adorable rodents.

From where I am now (Philippines) we don’t have squirrels, and it excites me most when we had spontaneous visit (thanks to Google maps)!




Here in Japan though, squirrels are much less present in the people’s daily lives, particularly in huge urban areas like Tokyo, so perhaps that explains the long-running popularity of Machida’s Squirrel Garden, or Risu-en in Japanese, a zoo for hundreds and hundreds of bushy-tailed, nut-nibbling critters.

Prepare yourself coz this post has loads of cuteness!

After our first engagement from another attraction, we decided to stop by at this tiniest zoo in Machida. You can easily notice several squirrel murals around the park.

Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan
Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan




Machida Squirrel Garden is located in a quiet residential neighborhood in a far-flung suburb of Tokyo. A 20-minute bus ride from Machida Station will drop you right by the entrance, although we opt to drive around with our car rental which is more practical for us.

Just like the rest of the zoo we’ve visited, entrance fee in Machida Squirrel Garden is surprisingly cheap. For adults costs 400-yen, and 200-yen for kids.

The main attractions are more than 200 squirrels inside the park, and a net strung high over the bowl-shaped enclosure keeps the critters from wandering off.

Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan
Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan

Another adorable fact are their tiny houses built by many volunteer kids visiting this zoo. Established in December 1988, this little zoo is one of the must-visit attractions in Machida. All of them are a well-cared, and in good shapes.

Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan

If feeding and petting is your thing, you can buy sunflower seeds in a bag (costs 100-yen per bag) and lend gloves to protect your hands while feeding them. Squirrels are so friendly that the moment they saw you sunflower seed bags, then will start approaching you!




Just be careful not to hold them, as they might feel surprise and scratch you back.


Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan
Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan


Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan

That moment when I felt surprised when this little guy jumped on me searching for more treats! Hope he won’t come inside my bag, lol.




Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan

Machida Squirrel Garden might not be mainstream attraction, but it is a great place to spend an afternoon in this relaxing place while playing with these little friends. It wasn’t crowded when we visited which is good, because too much visitors might give squirrels stress. 

Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan

As it turns out, the squirrel garden isn’t limited to just squirrels. They have a host of other small furry and feathered animals, including a massive horde of guinea pigs, some prairie dogs, turtles, birds, and several different species of rabbits, some of which have scheduled “encounter” times when they can be held or pet.




These pets are not for sale however, Machida Squirrel Garden also have its own souvenir gift shop which carries mostly cute stuffed animals, books and toys for kids. There are vending machines available if you are feeling thirsty and needs some snacks. Just don’t feed these to the animals.

Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan

How to travel to Machida, Japan

Along the long stretch of hills lies the Machida city, which is situated near the southwest Tokyo and bound by Kanagawa prefecture of the west. Towards the east of central Tokyo it is said to be approximately 40-50 kilometers. It is a notable city with a total area of 71.80 square kilometers, with an estimated population of 429,000 as of 2016 that is third among the 26 cities of Tokyo. The city of Machida can be reached from Tokyo Narita Airport by bus, car or train. The cheapest and the fastest way to travel to Machida city is to drive using a car. It takes at least an hour to reach Machida and no need to transfer to different stations. Other forms of transportations such as bus and trains will take approximately 2 hours to get to the beautiful city. Machida is connected to Tokyo and Shinjuku by the Odakyu line and to Yokohama via the JR Yokohama line.




One of the major rivers flows through the city and that is the Tama River. The Tama River is a famous spot for Kayaking where several competitions are held. Nowadays, it is also becoming a favorite place for white river rafting.  On the banks of the river, there are many sports field and picnic spots that are good for recreation.  In addition to this, the Tama River is also a home to various wildlife such as carp, rainbow trout, cherry salmon, turtles, and crayfish.

Watch our full vlog here during our visit at Machida Squirrel Garden



Machida Squirrel Garden: One of the oldest and tiny zoo of Japan

Machida Squirrel Park

Address: 733-1 Kanaimachi, Machida, Tokyo 195-0071
〒195-0071 東京都町田市金井町733-1

Telephone: 042-734-1001

Open 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., closed Tuesday
Website - https://www.machida-risuen.com/


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146 comments :

  1. japan is one of my dream destination, and would love to be the first. I will surely add this place to our itinerary for sure my kids will love it there as they love animals so much. thanks for sharing.

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    1. Your kids will definitely enjoy this place! Super friendly :D

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  2. The Squirrel Garden in Japan is really one of the cutest places to visit there. I will make sure to visit the place when I am in Japan.

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  3. This is quite interesting, we do find the same squirrels here in North America popularly known as "Chipmunks". Glad to know that there is squirrel garden in Machida and these little creatures are not for sale.

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    1. Yes, not for sale and they are well cared. So cute and adorable.

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  4. I think that squirrels are adorable! I also love Guinea Pigs - I've raised a lot of them over the years. This tiny little zoo is so sweet. I would love to visit some day.

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    1. Those guinea pigs looks like BUGSY in one of Adam Sandler's movie :D

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  5. Whaaat, I didn't know that this place existed! I should plan a visit to the garden on my next trip to Japan. The squirrels are SO cute! ~ Ola @ WanderWithOla

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  6. Kristine Nicole AlessandraOctober 1, 2019 at 2:48 PM

    Nice place to visit! I would love to experience feeding the squirrels too. Oh, and those guinea pigs! It made me remember that time when me and my cousin had lots of them. You can't believe how fast they multiply! Like a new baby every week! Haha.

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    1. OMG really?! I am considering having guinea pig as pet in my apartment. Their cuteness eases my stress.

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  7. Totally oblivious that such a zoo ever existed. I love squirrels immensely, the way the move and act. This tiny zoo you visited looks like a real fun place for all animal lovers.

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    1. I am so glad that we visited this place spontaneously, less visitors (I think that is good so that to maintain the peace of these squirrels).

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  8. This would be so cool to see. I love squirrels. My daughter would be all about the guinea pigs. We have two of them.

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    1. Wow that's cool! Is it taking care of your guinea pigs needs lots of attention?

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  9. Looks like a fun place to visit and the squirrel garden is nice too.I love gardens like these and the art in the walls is beautiful.

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    1. Their mini-houses are created by many student volunteers!

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  10. This is actually the cutest thing I've ever seen. I love guinea pigs! There is no way I could enter here and not accidentally (on purpose) steal one!

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    1. hahahahaah I can't blame you! Some of the squirrels are very persistent even checking our bags for extra seeds!

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  11. Oh how fun! I've never been to Japan before but if I ever do I'd love to check it out. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. You are welcome! Better to bring your car for easy travel to Tama Prefecture :D

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  12. The Squirrel Garden in Japan looks like an amazing destination for the weekend. Visiting Japan is my big dream as I think that both the country and the people are really lovely. I'd like to admire all these little animals there! :)

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    1. I am so happy that we found this place, and their cuteness! I am happy that they are all well-cared.

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  13. What a unique zoo. I would have screamed if the squirrel jumped on me

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    1. Hahaha yeah, but I controlled my scream coz I don't want the squirrels to be afraid of me.

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  14. I love visiting zoos in other countries! They're so much more fascinating to me than the zoos in my country!!

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  15. This is so adorable! We get squirrels in our backyard all the time, but they aren't as friendly as these ones appear to be!

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    1. Those squirrels in your backyard are wild, while these Machida squirrels are used to guests around, and very friendly (even vaccinated!).

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  16. The squirrels are adorable. I always love to watch squirrels playing in the trees. We actually have some solid black ones and they are beautiful!

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  17. grabeh ang daming squirrel. parang.. they were gathered from all over and put there. but they look like they're well-taken cared of. buti harmless naman ang pagpunta ng squirrel sa 'yo. I remember my experience with a monkey who grabbed the milk of my son (i was holding it) in Malaysia:-)

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    1. They are very friendly, but still encouraging not to touch them.

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  18. I will add this one to my itinerary. Im going to Japan november next year for autumn

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  19. Good place to visit! I love squirrels, the way she moves and acts.

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    1. they are so adorable! I am so glad they are human-friendly. I don't recommend you bringing your dogs or other pets to avoid distractions.

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  20. So cute. Only in Japan I guess. Im yet to visit the country but its unique places like this that makes it one of my top places to visit.

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  21. Have fun that they have their own Zoo. I will tell my daughter who loves squirrels, she will get a kick out of it.

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  22. Oh my gosh, this place is the cutest! It's for sure a must visit, love your photos!

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  23. That squirrel garden is so crazy! I don’t think I could have handled one of them on me!

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    1. Hahaha that is so true! We didn't got a chance to pet those bunnies coz some kids like them.

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  24. I cannot stand squirrels or rodents of any kind BUT I absolutely love this idea! So many people love squirrels and you're right I've never seen anyone keep them as pets. Which is ridiculous because some people have entire rats as pets. lol

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    1. hahahaah so true! But hey, they are adorable. As long as they are feed well, they won't destroy your home.

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  25. OH my gosh this looks so fun! I want to go here! I love little places like this

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  26. How neat that they have a zoo for squirrels. I have TONS of squirrels in my yard. I guess I take them for granted since people who live in large cities don't see them often.

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    1. Awww maybe you can build your own squirrel garden!

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  27. That is the neatest little zoo. I love that the squirrels are just so friendly and well taken care of.

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    1. Hope they build a bunny zoo as well! or exclusive for guinea pigs!

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  28. This looks like such a cool experience!

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    1. Amazing right?! This mini zoo will make you appreciate little things.

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  29. Wow this is the perfect destination for the kiddos for sure! I would love to hng out with the squirrels and it all looks like so much fun. I so need to get to Japan :)

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  30. It's looks like a fun afternoon! Are there different types of squirrels?

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    1. There are two to three types of squirrels available.

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  31. those little squirrels are so cute! they are a lot different looking than the ones we have in Canada. Sound like a fun experience !

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  32. That is a very interesting place to visit. I love watching squirrels...but have yet to hold one.

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  33. Japan always intrigue me. And Machida Squirrel garden sounds interesting.

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    1. That's true! Please help to spread the word about Machida!

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  34. Wow, i never knew a place like this in particular existed! I would love to be able to visit Japan someday with my family!

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  35. So cute!! I have the small small house they made for squirrel. we have a lot squirrel here in Phuket. Maybe I will build the squirrel house like that for them. Dont know if they will come

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    1. Ohh wow! You can try building small houses, and leave snacks for them. Hopefully they will recognize your gesture, and you start your own mini squirrel community!

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  36. What a cute little zoo! I love squirrels.

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  37. I've always wanted to visit Japan.... Thanks for sharing this

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  38. Nnnniiiiiccccceeeeeeeee....I love how it's all planned and laid out!

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  39. I have never been to Japan but this is one of my dream place to visit. I am sure you have a great time meeting those tiny creatures, I wish I can meet them someday!

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    1. You can visit them anytime when you are in Japan!

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  40. wow this looks so cute! I have never been to Japan, but now I would like to visit to this place with my 2 toddlers, they would LOVE it!

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  41. This looks so fun! Those little squirrel houses are adoreable.

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  42. The squirrels are so cute! I like in England so we have plenty of them over here, but people don't really like them, as they can be pests. I do though, I find them adorable.

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    1. I think they became pests coz its their way of survival. In Machida where squirrels are cared well, they don't destroy things because they know somebody are ready to feed them.

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  43. Wow so cute! It's my first time to hear of a squirrel garden. I'm used to just watching them in movies or cartoons. I might be afraid getting near them, but having this experience might change my fears to learnings. I hhope the management will continue to preserve these animals.

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    1. They are one of the oldest zoo in Japan, and running over 30-years!

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  44. Hey Blair, seems like you had a lot of fun! I suddenly feel like an idiot for not seeing this place. I frequent in Japan but I haven't heard of Machida Garden. *face palm* I wanna see a squirrel too but what we have are tarsiers (though, they're also cute). I'm really happy I stumbled upon this post.


    I still can't believe I missed this! Arg!

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  45. Wow,it's really a cool place!I love squirrel so much,they are so cute to look at.I never heard about this awesome zoo.Everything in there the tiny houses looked very nice.Squirrels are so friendly to look at.

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    1. In some countries, squirrels are considered pests because they are overcrowded and only survives on their own.

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  46. Looks like such a fun time at this place! Would love to visit here.

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  47. Ok, I kind of have to chuckle at this! I live in Virginia, USA where we have WAY too many squirrels. But giving them a place to be is great. We mainly look at them as nuisances that eat bird seed and don't know which way to turn when they get into the streets. The little houses are a good idea!

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    1. Japan makes everything cute, and try their very best to make everyone co-exists.

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  48. Why are they saying that squirrels are pests? They are not. They are so cute kaya. Huhu I want to visit this

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    1. In America and Europe where their population are massive, they are considered as pests.. Survival lang, hindi kasalanan ng squirrels.

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  49. Surekha-dreamingloudOctober 4, 2019 at 9:00 AM

    Squirrels are so cute..! But I understand why they could be a pest too... Oh Japan Japan.. So many cute things too offer. ��

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  50. Tiffany La Forge-GrauOctober 4, 2019 at 9:06 AM

    I have always loved feeding and watching the squirrels. They are so cute and crazy!

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  51. wooow. ive never seen aa squirrel. im leaving for japan in a few months. i think i need to go here!!

    cha @ littlemisadvencha.com

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  52. Oh my! I miss squirrels! I used to feed them regularly when I was in India and I had some regular visitors. Right now, where I live in Europe, I hardly get to see any squirrels!
    Good to know there is a sanctuary dedicated to them. Good to know that they are cared for well. Its amazing that those wooden houses were painted by the kids. Just adorable. Thanks for the tip about renting car than depending on public transport.

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    1. We don't have squirrels in the Philippines, so wonder I am so thrilled!

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  53. That's one of the place that I won't miss in Japan. As a being a huge hamster fan I would die ecstatically. HAHA. Japanese culture & people, they love tiny and cute( Kawaii) things.

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    1. That is so true! I am excited to visit more cute animals sanctuaries in Japan.

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  54. My grandchildren would enjoy this place. They have been to Japan recently but I am not sure if they were able to find this Squirrel garden. I will have to ask.

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    1. Very happy when I spontaneous search nearest zoo and found this vis Google Map!

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  55. I LOVE that they have a squirrel garden in Japan! How cute! We have them all over the place here where I am, something I take for granted I guess!

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    1. aawww and who knows that these cute creatures gives additional income in Japan's community :D

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  56. I really want to go in Japan. The squirrel so cute the view looks so peaceful and amazing I would love to visit this place someday.

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  57. This is so cute <3 Would love to visit Japan too

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  58. I love squirrels as they are so much cute little creatures. I never knew that there can be a park or garden dedicated to the, Machida squirrel garden really looks great place for kids and even adults as they have so many cute squirrels. I would love to take photos with that cutouts.

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    1. If they hosts for another squirrel house making activities, then I would love to share my contribution :D

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  59. I think I heard about this in passing from a friend but it looks a super cute place. I would love to pet the hamsters!

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  60. OMG I wanna go here! nakakatuwa! kaso nagugulat ako sa kanila hahahaha

    http://wanderwomom.wordpress.com

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    1. Sa una lang sis. Pero mawawala rin kaba mo kasi very friendy sila :D

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  61. Wow such a cute place to visit. Little ones will surely love this place.

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  62. Those are some very friendly squirrels. It's so interesting that there is a zoo/garden that houses these creatures. I'm so used to seeing them run around my neighborhood.

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    1. OMG if only my neighborhood have squirrels, I will let them inside my house, hahahaha

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  63. The place sounds really fun. Wish i could visit a place like that even if I am a bit scared of animals!! Hoping to visit Japan by next week. See ya cute critters.

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  64. Ohhh my goodness!I love squirrels! Even though we have so many here in the US, many of which end up as roadkill unfortunately, they always seem so cute and happy! I would love to go to this zoo <3

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    1. Ohh it will break my heart! Last time I saw this huge street rat (like a cat!) that was hit by a car. Gives me teary eyes.

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  65. OMG! They are so cute! But I think, I can't handle real life encounter with them. I'm scared of small hairy animals. I might not handle it and just scream haha!

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    1. hahaha, I noticed that none of the guests screams during our visit.

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  66. What a wonderful place! And how wonderful to have a park devoted to squirrels. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. my next agenda is to visit the famous cat island!

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  67. I really want to see squirrel too! :( But it's sad to know that they cannot be touched or hugged :(

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    1. you can touch them gently (but on your own risk, coz they are jumpy!).

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  68. Hey,

    Sounds Good. The article is really awesome and it really well contents.

    Thanks For Sharing.

    Aashirvad Kumar

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  69. omg but it looks so fuuuuuunnn! Ive never held a squirrel before

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  70. Whoever thought of this! My kids would probably have a blast here. What a very interesting way to observe how squirrels live. We saw a squirrel once, but it was alone and seemed to afraid to go near people.

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    1. well these squirrels will almost chase you just for sunflower seeds!

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  71. I have to admit this post made my laugh! I live in the US and have a wooded backyard that is full of squirrels. In fact, I can hear them tossing acorns on to the growdund as I write this. I have always thought they were adorable though so I can totally see this little zoo being a hit!

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    1. Hahaha pardon us coz we don't have squirrels here, but yeah they are adorable AF :D

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  72. This is really cute and fun for kids. I would love to go here.

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    1. This place is also popular for many school field trips :D

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