(ANIMALS IN CAPTIVITY/ZOOS) Hanako is quite possibly the world’s saddest elephant. Believed to be the oldest elephant in Japan, Hanako has been living in a concrete prison for 61 years.

Her cell resides in the Inokashira Park Zoo in Tokyo, known by visitors as “one of the cruellest, most archaic zoos in the modern world.”

Hanako was originally sent to the Ueno Zoo when she was 2 years old. Photo credit: Express
Hanako the elephant was originally sent to the Ueno Zoo when she was two years old. Photo credit: Express

Her concrete prison is devoid of grass and trees—her only means of stimulation and comfort is a piece of rope hanging from the wall.

Hanako also suffers from health issues such as tooth loss and digestive problems.

Aside from her urgent need for medical attention, it is unclear when she last interacted with another elephant.

Animal activists are calling for justice, and are urging Hanako to be released from captivity.

However, some are concerned about Hanako’s increasing temperamental actions resulting from her long life of mistreatment.

Hanako has lost most of her teeth due to lack of care. Photo credit: Daily Mail
Hanako has lost most of her teeth due to lack of care. Photo credit: Daily Mail

In 1956, she reportedly trampled a man who entered her enclosure, and years later, reacted the same way towards a zookeeper.

According to a 2011 article by national paper Asahi Shimbun, she is said to have flipped over a zookeeper, as well as chased after a member of the zoo staff.

After being enclosed in such horrific and cruel conditions for over six decades, it’s no wonder Hanako is resentful. Elephants are highly intelligent creatures, and according to Mikio Murofushi, the leader of Hanako’s care team:

“A pure accident is impossible in the case of an elephant. An elephant is extremely intelligent and acts cognitively.”

With no stimulation, Hanako stands lifeless in her cell.
With no stimulation, Hanako stands lifeless in her cell.

No animal should be forced to live a lifetime of loneliness, imprisoned in a tiny concrete enclosure. Activists have created a petition in hopes of transporting Hanako to an animal sanctuary where she can receive medical attention, have access to a pool, and finally interact with other elephants.

TAKE ACTION: Click here to sign the petition to free Hanako from captivity.

— Rebecca Hartt, exclusive to Global Animal

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