The crested ibis (or toki in Japanese) is a national icon that once became extinct in Japan but now once again inhabits Sado Island. Toki Forest Park (トキの森公園, Toki no Mori Kōen) is a conservation park and museum where visitors can see the endangered crested ibis and learn more about the efforts to increase their population.
From the Meiji Period, the bird suffered overhunting, habitat loss and a reduction of food sources caused by chemicals used in agriculture. In 1981, the last few toki, who lived on Sado Island, were captured for a breeding program that ultimately failed in 2003 when the last native bird died. A new breeding program with birds donated from China proved more successful.
The park houses an exhibition hall that focuses on the crested ibis and its history in Japan. It also contains various enclosures, mostly off-limits to the public, where crested ibises are being bred and a few other varieties of ibis are kept. A short walk away from the rest of the park (and included in the admission price) is the Toki Fureai Plaza, a semi-natural enclosure with a toki family on display.
Since 2008, Toki Forest Park has been reintroducing crested ibises into the wild. Today, several hundred toki are living in the wild again, with more birds being released every year. As a result, it is now possible again to spot crested ibises around the rice fields of Sado Island with some luck.