Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Asian elephant Hanako at Inokashira Park Zoo, Japan

11 January 2016

Categories: Homepage News, Elephants Campaign News, Zoo Check Campaign News

The plight of Hanako, a 68 year-old Asian elephant living on her own in a small, barren enclosure at Tokyo’s Inokashira Park Zoo for over 60 years, has recently received significant media attention. Hanako is the oldest elephant in captivity in Japan, and her situation was highlighted by a visitor to the Zoo, who was deeply upset by the sad sight of this lonely soul.

A news article about Hanako from 2012, when she had her 65th birthday, gives an overview of her life:

Of course, Hanako is not the only elephant living in poor conditions in Japanese zoos. There may be as many as 105 elephants in Japanese zoos, with approximately 16 living alone. Furthermore, there are even plans to import more elephants from Cambodia to zoos in Japan.

Born Free Foundation has reached out to our contacts in Japan regarding Hanako’s situation. They advise us that, given her advanced age and unknown health status, calls to move Hanako to a sanctuary may be premature. Furthermore, Japan has no sanctuary facilities for elephants and that other Japanese zoos generally do not provide conditions that address the biological and behavioural needs of elephants, so options for placement in Japan are limited. The first step to assist Hanako would be to conduct a proper health and welfare evaluation, to determine whether she is a candidate for travel of any kind and, if not, how to mitigate the multitude of issues she faces at Inogahsira Zoo.

We will be keeping abreast of the situation via our contacts in Japan, and will assist as far as possible, but it is likely that there is no simple solution for Hanako.

We are convinced that the keeping of elephants in zoos needs to be phased out worldwide and that, in the meantime, a network of genuine elephant sanctuaries needs to be created. Born Free has committed to exploring the possibility of constructing just such a sanctuary in Europe. Find out more about this project here.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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