Translated by Shinji Takaramura
NIFREL In Osaka - Art and Animals Up Close
Written by Keisuke Yamada
NIFREL, located inside Osaka's EXPOCITY, is a unique type of zoo where some of the animals roam freely in the building. NIFREL is divided into different zones letting you enjoy animals and art at the same time.
NIFREL - A Different Kind of Zoo
Generally, a zoo is a place for visitors to observe the animals inside of cages but NIFREL, located in EXPOCITY in Osaka, is different. It is a new type of museum, where visitors can feel as if they have truly wandered into the world of animals.
NIFREL is an interactive aqua zoo produced by Kaiyukan, a popular aquarium in Osaka. It is designed to let the visitors observe the animals up close and has become famous for its uniqueness. Based on the concept of enriching the visitors' sensorial experience, it is a mix of an aquarium, zoo and museum, with an artistic touch added to their exhibitions.
Mammals and birds are raised alongside fish and the other animals living in the waterside regions. There are no fences, only see-through partitions, which makes the visitors feel like they have wandered into the wild.
Let's have a look!
Abilities and Shapes - Fascinating Sea Creatures
NIFREL is divided into seven zones: Colors, Abilities, Shapes, Waterside, Behavior, Biodiversity, and Wonder Moments. The visitor can enjoy art and animals at the same place.
The first zone is named Abilities. In this zone, visitors can witness how marine animals survive in the wild up close. Witness them spouting water, hiding in the sand, and changing their body colors to blend into the surroundings.
This is a four-eyed fish. They are usually living in tropical zones such as the Amazon. They swim on the surface of the water I order to look for their prey. They commonly hunt for terrestrial insects but they also consume smaller fish at times.
The tawny nurse shark spends the daytime inside a cave and hunts for animals hiding in holes at nighttime
They have a very unusual way of feeding, once they detect their prey, they are sucking it int their mouth. Their preferred prey are lobsters, crabs, sea urchins, reef fishes, and octopuses.
This is the entrance to the Shapes zone.
The enigmatic figures of animals are illuminated by the endless dots of light. Visitors can admire the artistic shapes of animals in this dimly lit zone. Spotted garden eels and longhorn cowfish are two of the animals that can be observed in this zone.
Wonder Moments - Interactive Art Experience
This is the Wonder Moments zone, created by the artist Takahiro Matsuo. Here, visitors might forget that they are inside an aquarium, and feel like they are in outer space instead.
The colors and shapes are mesmerizing and everchanging. Adults and children alike can enjoy this zone to the fullest.
Waterside - Observe Wild Animals
In the Waterside zone, visitors can come face to face with animals living in the waterside areas.
Wild animals such as white tigers, hippopotamus, and crocodiles can be found in this zone. Less scary animals like chameleons can also be observed.
There is a cafe next to this zone. Visitors can watch the wild animals while taking a break. The photograph above was taken from the cafe.
Behavior - Face to Face with Live Animals
Behavior is the most popular zone of NIFREL. The animals are divided from the visitors only by a stream running through the zone. Some of them cross over to the human side, enabling the visitors to observe them up close.
Not all the animals in this zone roam free.
The adorable Penguins in the area, for example, have their own partition.
NIFREL - Experience Animals and Art
NIFREL is truly a one-of-a-kind zoo. At this place, birds fly over the visitors' heads, and some animals may even try to steal your things. It gives its visitors a great chance to see animals up close and make lasting memories.
If you come to Osaka, this is a must-visit spot for the whole family!