Stay-at-home protocol and encouraged social distancing as a countermeasure to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) mean that even gathering in public facilities with capped capacity is still tough, resulting in a sharp drop in social outings.

North Safari Sapporo, a zoo in Sapporo, Hokkaido, has felt that drop during a normally expected busy period, having to cap attendance and even shut down temporarily. However, even without customers, the zoo has still has support the health of the animals it cares for, its workers, and keep routine maintenance on its facilities, which has been difficult without a steadier flow of visitors.

With the motivation of keeping animals in good health behind him, "Mr. Horse" (not a Bojack Horseman cosplayer, but a zoo staff alias) came up with the idea of teaming up with famous manga authors to release merchandise to help support the zoo's efforts.

The project is a collaboration with manga artists and illustrators who were born and raised in Hokkaido or who draw works related to animals and have a connection to the zoo.

Original goods such as calendars, T-shirts, key chains, and hand towels were produced using the illustrations of animals drawn by each artist.

The goods feature illustrations and designs by the following artists:

Arakawa Hiromu (Fullmetal Alchemist, The Heroic Legend of Arslan)

Shuji Sogabe (Prince of Stride, comic version of Persona 4)

Karino Takatsu (Working!!, Dust Box 2.5)

Akira Himekawa (The Legend of Zelda, Wild Animals I Have Known )

Katsumi Tatsuzawa (BENJIE, Versus Gyoshin-san!)

Kazuhiro Fujita (Ushio and Tora, Karakuri Circus)

Those in Japan who can't make it to the North Safari Sapporo Zoo but would like to help out the efforts to keep the animals and park environment healthy, while also picking up some exclusive animal-themed illustrations by talented manga artists can do so at the park's official website.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.