Zoo director asks people to stop messing with air conditioning by setting it to lowest temperature

Last year, a giant python escaped from its owner and had an entire neighborhood in Yokohama on edge for about half a month. It wasn’t until Tsuyoshi Shirava, the director of Shizuoka’s iZoo, used his keen sense of reptiles to quickly locate the animal in the attic above its owner’s apartment.

▼ Shirava’s confident thumbs up to the media after easily finding the snake made him the coolest zookeeper in Japan.

When he’s not out solving animal mysteries, Shirava runs a unique kind of zoo at iZoo (pronounced “ee-zoo”). With an emphasis on reptiles and amphibians, iZoo is often described as an “experimental zoo” that allows guests to get up close and personal with animals.

This requires a very in-depth knowledge of animals to assess the risk posed by and to reptiles such as alligators, venomous snakes and chameleons. Shirawa’s leadership has helped iZoo accomplish this for years without incident. But for all his experience with cold-blooded creatures, there is one animal that Shirava struggles with: humans.

On August 24, an exasperated Shirava posted the following tweet:

“There have been repeated instances of visitors taking the liberty of reducing the air conditioning of the iZoo exhibition hall to its minimum temperature of 18 degrees Celsius. We tried countermeasures like patrols and warnings, but it didn’t stop. Air conditioning is for all living things, not just humans. The normal temperature is 28 degrees Celsius. I know it’s hot, but please don’t touch the equipment.


The tweet went viral and generated a large number of responses. Many expressed their surprise that people would be so bold as to adjust the air conditioning of a private business. Others, however, believe that Shirawa and iZoo’s relaxed atmosphere share some of the blame.

“The number of incredibly irrational people seems to increase every year. If you can’t stand the heat, don’t go to places where animals from hot climates live.”

“You can’t trust your guests so much, or one day you’ll be forced to stop making the zoo so open.”

“I’m sure some people really think they’re helping cold-blooded animals by lowering the temperature.”

“28 degrees isn’t even that hot.”

“People always do unexpected things, but I think it’s management’s responsibility to eliminate the chances of that as much as possible.”

“I also work in a kennel and the air conditioning is covered so even the staff can’t mess with it. If there is a key, there will always be someone to touch it.”

“Please provide images of how this air conditioner is set up and how guests can touch it.”

In response to the feedback, Shirawa posted a photo of the control panel, which is behind a closed door that is taped off… or “it was taped shut’ rather, as someone had obviously peeled off the tape so they could change the temperature.

“Sorry for all the problems with the air conditioning. We put tape on it so people wouldn’t open it, but they peeled it off to let it cool. I understand that many people think that iZoo is too indulgent. I guess you could say that, right… It’s seen as something you can touch.’


Shirava seems to have taken much of the criticism to heart. Even more than a problem with people fiddling with the thermostat, iZoo operates on a certain level of faith in its visitors, allowing them to get very close to the animals. If guests can’t be trusted with a control panel, can they really be trusted with a Galapagos giant tortoise?

The next day, Shirawa again posted a photo of the air conditioner control panel. This time, however, it was secured with a padlock and a sign was put up notifying everyone that the temperature was set to ensure the animals’ health and that lowering it could make them sick.

“I put a lock and signature on the air conditioner that’s causing all this commotion. Breaking this is equipment damage, so I hope no one tries to open it. Initially, it was installed in front of a surveillance camera, so everything was recorded. I didn’t want to go this far, but I did because the honor system doesn’t apply to equipment.


In a subsequent interview with J-Cast News, Shirava explained the situation in more detail, explaining that this is a problem that has been going on for years. However, this hotter than usual summer has exacerbated the problem to the point where it is happening several times a day. Fortunately, this had no adverse effects on the animals as the staff quickly picked up and fixed the temperature changes in the facility.

It is probably the same care and diligence on the part of the staff that has allowed iZoo to continue to operate in its own special way. Hopefully they can keep doing it too, because there’s nothing I’d like more than to feed one of these huge turtles a big old piece of lettuce someday.

Sources: Twitter/@shirawatsuyoshi, J-Cast News

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