Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Hanako, the ‘loneliest elephant in the world’, dies at the age of 69

27 May 2016

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

Today it emerged that Hanako, an elephant kept at Japan’s Inokashira Park Zoo, has sadly died at the age of 69.

Born in Thailand, Hanako was gifted to the park in 1949 and lived a solitary life from the age of 2.  Despite concerns about her welfare, a recent global campaign to move Hanako to a sanctuary was considered to be unworkable given her advanced years. Hanako was found lying on her side Thursday morning and reportedly died “peacefully” that afternoon. 

According to the website, there are approximately 16 elephants still kept alone in zoos across Japan; a shocking number considering that elephants are highly intelligent animals who live in closely-bonded family groups. Females in particular live the duration of their lives surrounded by other females and their offspring in the wild.

Captivity can never provide an environment truly suitable for elephants, and many captive elephants show signs of physical and psychological disorders such as repetitive swaying, rocking and shaking their heads, lameness and obesity. 

The Born Free Foundation is saddened by the news of Hanako’s death. It serves as a reminder that 33 years on from the death of Pole Pole we still have a very long way to go to ensure that elephants can safely thrive in the wild where they belong and no longer face entire lifetimes in unsuitable captivity.

In 2013, Born Free Foundation released a report in to the plight of elephants kept in solitary confinement across Europe – “Innocent Prisoner”. You can find the report here.

Born Free Foundation
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