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Move sought for Japan's oldest elephant may be too late

33 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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33 Comments
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I was shocked the first time I saw this elephant and at Inokashira zoo itself. Couldn't understand why no one was appalled an elephant lived in a concrete box like that.

15 ( +15 / -1 )

Quite distressing really. What a waste of a life, 67 out 69 years standing on concrete.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Hori defended what he called the Japanese view of zoos as an educational exhibition of wildlife, which he said was culturally different from the Western view. He slammed the petition drive as “self-righteous and bigoted.”

Perhaps someday space aliens will go full-scale "Planet of the Apes" on Hori's @ss, and it would serve him right.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

... which he said was culturally different from the Western view

Is there going to be a barbecue at the elephant pen soon?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So cruel to keep such a beautiful animal kept in such conditions for so long.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

There are so many similar situations like this all over Japan. Birds in little cages until they lose their will to live. Huge ancient tortoise with their sad teary eyes getting the attention of only the sensitive children. Everytime I see chimpanzees I see myself in the cages as in the Planet of the Apes movie. I am all for any kind of petitions and projects to better the habitats or even better, returning the animals back to their origins. Bettering the habitat may be the only recourse for many of them like Hanako. Let's not forget to say to her "We're sorry, please forgive us."

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Hori must be this, in my mind, this old dinosaur--like so many Japanese politicians or businessmen--who will ATTACK any new idea as being impossible. She is too old is a sorry excuse for not moving her to at least Fuji Safari Park. And to attack the petition--signed by many Japanese--as being too Western is insane, the subtext being that animal cruelty (small 1950 style concrete pens) is part of Japanese culture!! Does he not see what a fool is making of himself and what an insult this remark is to Japanese society? MIND-BLOWING! Sign the petition folks and find out WHO is this man's Boss is!!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

it seems that someone should buy keep the poor elephant as pet at warm house instead. I can't afford.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

She was transferred from the Ueno Zoo after the war because she had killed one of her keepers.

0 ( +2 / -1 )

a life sentence in solitary confinement for Hanako

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Inokashira-Zoo is part of Ueno-Zoo

No the best conditions, I agree, but what makes the activists think she can survive in the wild?

And why now all of a sudden. Most Japanese I know are surprised she is still alive, hardly any think about her.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Hori defended what he called the Japanese view of zoos as an educational exhibition of wildlife, which he said was culturally different from the Western view.

Once the culture card has been played, it seems to stifle all debate in Japan. The assumption, of course, is that if the practice reflects Japanese culture/sensibilities, then it must be inherently good and honorable.

3 ( +8 / -4 )

Once the culture card has been played, it seems to stifle all debate in Japan.

I guess that is because that's the idea. That's why it is so useful as an ideological tool domestically. And it insinuates itself into a western multicultural ideology of tolerance for all cultures and the postmodern idea of cultural relativism so often disarms any criticism from outside.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Very well said, TheRat and Moonraker. Where is the petition available? How about everyone start calling the zoo and trying to talk some "Western" sense into Mr. Hori? Thinking of some life or death situations that I've been in, I would've given anything for another, just even a second, to be free. Hanako would love to be in big grassy field with real trees, real flowers, real bees and butterflies flying around...if even just for a second.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"...he said was culturally different." Another Japanese avoidance technique. One of many in the toolbox, but one of the favorites. I guess Hori has to tell himself something so he can sleep at night. Letting the elephant go would be admitting his management and career are lacking.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Oh yeah...here we go again..." it's our culture, gaikokujin just don't understand it" BS.....how many centuries has the Japanese tradition of keeping elephants in cages been around? How about another petition to put Hori into a cage half the size of basketball court to live out his reminder years?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Must say the elephants in Tennoji zoo look to be in quite a horrible condition too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Shame on Japan for allowing this, and they do everywhere. There's a reason their zoos rank as borderline criminal. Good on the few who signed the petition. Shame on the owners especially. The zoo should be shut down.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Can I surgest that Hidemasa Hori goes on a visit, or "education tour" of other zoos around Europe to see how the 21 entry look after there animals, then he might just appreciate how bad these conditions are for this poor elephant, around 97 years ago they would have been quite good, but not now they are lagging well behind.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I was shocked the first time I saw this elephant and at Inokashira zoo itself.

Oh, I have seen much, much worse in my time in Japan. The zoos here are horrifying, and not worthy of a supposedly developed nation.

"Culturally different" my foot. What do animals know of cultural differences? Twit.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Truly shameful. No animal lover would consider visiting a zoo, aquarium or animal circus.

That's not love. That's abuse.

All countries have their animal abuse issues. That's for sure. However, Japan is a "great" leader in this field.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hori slammed the view as "self-righteous and bigoted".

Um sorry, Hori. It looks like you are the one who is self-righteous and bigoted because the two have nothing to do with the animal and how it should be treated. Everyone knows that the zoo system in Japan is horrific, especially for a country with as much financial resources as yours. Also, you are ignoring the fact that the animals need a lot more room to move and that animals are not there to spend their lives cooped up, isolated in tiny cages. Go to any Japanese zoo and you see the animals pacing. Pacing is a form of stress due to isolation and confinement in small spaces and it is something that needs to stop.

The system is the way it because of people like you who have sympathy at all for the animals that you are taking care of.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Tusk, tusk, tusk, the state of J-zoos is reprehensible.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Brian Whewhay: "Can I surgest that Hidemasa Hori goes on a visit, or "education tour" of other zoos around Europe to see how the 21 entry look after there animals, then he might just appreciate how bad these conditions are for this poor elephant, around 97 years ago they would have been quite good, but not now they are lagging well behind."

Forget Europe, despite it being lords above Japan (what isn't??) in terms of zoos. Go to the world's best: Toranga Zoo in Australia, Singapore Zoo, and the Toronto Zoo, all top ranked (or among them). Japan is shameful, but we are talking about a nation that gladly sells endangered animals despite an international ban on it being in place for a decade, slaughters whales and dolphins in barbaric ways and says you're attacking Japanese culture if you point out the cruelty and that the world is against it, STILL deals in ivory (good old Rakuten!), and who seal pets in small boxes the minute they stop being 'kawaiiiiiii' and start being real. And what does Hori have to say about it, after admitting the zoo is not equipped for an elephant and yet keeping it and insist it stay until it's dead at 69 or so?

"Hori defended what he called the Japanese view of zoos as an educational exhibition of wildlife, which he said was culturally different from the Western view."

Uhhhh... how moronic is this guy? Do elephants know about cultural norms? And if they do, isn't this elephant from Thailand and the potential for culture shock, being in Japan, be kept in mind? Shouldn't it be given Thai food and spoken to in Thai? Sheesh... this guy is stupid!

"He slammed the petition drive as “self-righteous and bigoted.”

Yeah, "bigoted" from the guy who says others don't understand the Japanese (not Asia, mind you, just Japanese) vs. Western views on zoos and how he is automatically right despite admitting the zoo is not equipped for elephants. Only one person here bigoted.

Again, shame on Japan for allowing this. I saw a different elephant at the hot spring area around Beppu's "Hells", in a cement enclosure that is not even part of what could be called a zoo. It spend the entire time, and I'm told it always does this, just shaking its head and pacing back and forth -- well, as much as it could with it's leg chained! And my gods you should have seen the cages the monkeys were in! they made the cages for animals in factory farms look like huge plains!

If this is Japanese zoo culture, let all zoos here be shut down... now! Until then, please ask Hori to feed the lions by hand, with the door closed and locked behind him once he steps into their enclosure.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

"Chris Draper at Born Free Foundation, a U.S. wildlife-advocacy nonprofit group, said Hanako’s living conditions should be improved, by enlarging the space, adding a heated pool and sand piles, and changing the walking surface, if a move turned out to be too risky. He suggested independent experts assess the best action." I agree. I also think Hanako has human friends at this zoo that she will want to be with her as she exits this life. Her life has not been a waste, because she has succeeded in stirring up human feelings for the plight of animals in captivity that will help result in changes for the better. The greatest achievement any of us can make with our life is to leave the Earth a better place for our having been here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Give the poor elephant a chance.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's sad? Now? The poor thing has been tortured in that horrible concrete hole, to kids'applause, for 10, 20, 30,what, more years, and no one has raised a fuss. The zoo's administrators are animals, but only the worst and meanest kind. Shame on this zoo. Shame on all zoos, specially in this day and age. Shame on all the parents standing at the rail lauding their kids applauding the elephant. Kids dont't know better and their keepers are so obviously dumb.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hori welcomed the petition as a means to open the debate on the conditions for animals in zoos in Japan.

"There are improvements we can make to Hanako's living space and we welcome input on this from experts both inside and outside Japan," he said.

Then I woke up.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Its been covered pretty well above LOTS of "zoo's" here are absolutely horrible..........why on earth they MAKE animals live like Japanese in small square-ish bland enclosures is beyond me & to see this IDIOT hori spew his 100yr old un-educated views & he "works" at the "zoo"..........insane!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Smithinjapan, I was not trying to say that Europe is the only one that has good zoo,s but I was trying to get across that the zoo, across the world have moved on and got better and better, and Japan has not, this was a nasty swipe at Japan as a nation or its cultural views. Hori defended what he called the Japanese view of zoos as an educational exhibition of wildlife, which he said was culturally different from the Western view. He slammed the petition drive as “self-righteous and bigoted.” Has Hori san actually visited any other zoos from around the world? may be he should and then he might just understand how backwards his zoo is.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Over 85% of Japanese live in vast overcrowded cities that have been compared to rabbit hutches so it is hardly surprising that their captive animals would receive the same type of treatment.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You can see the rust marks on the leg due to being chained, so sad even if it is only few days if they do move the elephant a bet them few days would be much better then a whole life time suck in them conditions ! Disgusting to see such a beautiful and large animal in this sort of solution and in this day of age.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was disgusted when I visited Inokashira zoo, the animals are clearly distressed and suffering from mental illness. I wrote how sad I was in the visitor book on the way out but of course.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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