An elephant that lived alone at a zoo in Tokyo for 67 years sparking a worldwide campaign to free her has died in her concrete pen.
Hanako, or ‘flower child’, who was described by campaigners as the ‘loneliest elephant in the world’, died at the age of 69 at Inokashira Park Zoo in the Japanese capital.
She was a gift from the Thai government in 1949 and had lived at the park since she was two. She was Japan’s oldest elephant and had a long life for captive Asian elephants.
Zoo spokesman Naoya Ohashi said Hanako was discovered lying on her side on Thursday morning and repeated efforts to raise her upright were not successful. She died peacefully in the afternoon.
Naoya said an autopsy would be conducted to determine the cause.
Ulara Nakagawa, a Vancouver resident whose blog inspired the petition drive for Hanako, said it was sad how the elephant had spent her life in an enclosure without dirt or grass and water to splash around in.
‘Most tragic is that she was deprived of true, lasting companionship, which is crucial to an elephant’s overall well-being,’ she wrote in an email.
‘I hope that Hanako’s legacy will be to inspire her fans in Japan and elsewhere to better educate themselves on elephant welfare and work to expose and improve the living conditions of the many other captive zoo elephants who need us,’ she wrote.
‘Rest in peace, Hanako. You will not be forgotten.’