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Hanako, Japan’s oldest elephant, dies at 69

Hanako at Inokashira Park Zoo
Hanako at Inokashira Park Zoo
TOKYO (TR) – Hanako, Japan’s oldest elephant who made headlines for spending most of her life alone in a concrete enclosure, died at 69 in Tokyo on Tuesday, NHK (May 26) reported.

Hanako, an Asian elephant, arrived in 1949 as a gift from Thailand. She lived most of her solitary life in a concrete enclosure at Inokashira Park Zoo in Musashino City.

The popular elephant made headlines last year when a campaign dubbed “Help Hanako” kicked off online, with petitions gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures from around the world calling on Inokashira Park Zoo to improve her living conditions.

But Hanako’s zookeepers believed moving Hanako would have been too stressful, instead vowing in March to improve her living conditions without discussing details.

Jiji Press quoted one of Hanako’s zookeepers in January as saying that given “Hanako’s age, moving would be too stressful. She gets very nervous, freezing up at the sound of a twig snapping. The amount of stress from environmental change would be immeasurable.”