Q: In zoos and aquariums around Japan, only distinctive displays are publicized. What do you think is the future of zoos?
Komiya: I think the Ueno Zoo will be an environmental and cultural zoo in the future. When I am asked, "What is the best asset of the Ueno Zoo?" you expect that I would answer, "It is the giant panda." However, it is Shinobazuno Pond. We transferred cormorants, which were dying out in the Bay of Tokyo, to the Ueno Zoo. When the number of cormorants increased to about 1,000, trees and plants withered due to their droppings, and Shinobazuno Pond was filled with the cormorants and lotuses. Islands in the pond were covered with their droppings and turned white. However, when we released an eagle which could not fly onto one of the islands, plants on the island grew back. Then, when we released white birds into the pond, they ate the lotus roots. Now, we spend maintenance costs of lotuses, but if the pond's biodiversity is fully recovered, we do not need to spend the costs. In this way, we want to explain about ecosystems, which are easy to understand even for elementary school students.
If we boast about animals displayed in the Ueno Zoo, other zoos might imitate what we have done. However, other zoos cannot imitate the natural environment, that is to say, Shinobazuno Pond, the five-storied pagoda, the Todo family's grave, Kankan-tei that has a sunken fireplace used by Iemitsu Tokugawa, and 130 years of its history.