picture of the day

Asia's oldest elephant

59 Comments

Visitors surround the compounds where Hanako the elephant is celebrating her 65th birthday at Inokashira Park Zoo on the outskirts of Tokyo on Sunday. The zoo held a ceremony for Japan's oldest Asian elephant.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

59 Comments
Login to comment

Give the old girl a nice jam doughnut ... happy birthday

3 ( +4 / -2 )

This picture makes me feel very sad.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Japan's oldest Asian-Elephant...China, India, Srilanka or JAPAN ?!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

All her life, in jail.

12 ( +18 / -9 )

All her life, in jail.

...with rigorous punishment till this age.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

looks more like a statue than a real elephant, fitting i guess

0 ( +3 / -3 )

looks more like a concrete jail than a home for her. poor thing.

8 ( +13 / -6 )

please let her go to a rehab center....she's beautiful.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

65! She doesn't look a day over 50!

Saw this on NHS News7 last nite. She eats only warm food, and gets her back washed whilst she's eating her warm food.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

At least she is safe from poachers and exploitation in the Zoo. Happy Birthday Hanako

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I remember back in 1956 when a drunk intruder entered Hanako's cage and Hanako stepped on the man and killed him. In 1958, Hanako (accidentally) killed a zoo keeper. Hanako does belong in "jail".The zoo keepers are doing an excellent job keeping her well.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The true heart of a Nation is shown in the way it treats/respects animals. Very sad image. An elephant does not belong in a concrete prison.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Happy Birthday Hanako.

I like Inokashira-Zoo, especially love going into the squirrel enclosure. And the art-garden and art exhibits are also very nice.

Also great for a picnic with the Family in spring.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Hanako must be the oldest sian elephant, before "Lin Wang" of Taiwan died at the age of 86. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lin_Wang

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Everything in Japan lasts a long time, even the animals :P

2 ( +4 / -2 )

They should remove all the concrete and have soil instead

3 ( +5 / -1 )

if she had a peanut for every time shes been hit by a peanut....

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

For the remaining years, send her to an open space region in Japan to live a happier life

5 ( +7 / -1 )

I will say it again. Elephants are super intelligent like whales. Sea Shepard or some other free the elephants groupd should fight to free these animals.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

For a second I thought the title said "Asia's coldest elephant".

Yes, if they could take her for a walk in the park on soil and grass at least once week wouldn't that be great!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

65 year jail sentences are harsh...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It is a sad irony that this elephant is the same color as its concrete surroundings.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

And what a wonderful 65 years this elephant must have had!! (Sarcasm off).

Japanese zoo's and aquariums are absolutely disgusting the way they house their animals. I guess as long as the gawking locals keep turning up nothing will ever change though.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I guess Hanako the elephant is "institutionalized" by now. The concrete is her home. I bet she will miss home if she is released in the jungle.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It's surprising such big suckers don't live longer, but given they suffer from so many illnesses, many of them similar to human illnesses, 65 is a decent fete -- particularly given the state of most Japanese zoos. Happy birthday, Hanako.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Sorry... autocorrect at work again... that's 'feat', not 'fete', although she should be celebrated.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Zoo Staff: Please end its misery.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I don't support animal cruelty so I don't go to zoos. Thank you but no thank you.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Franchesca.

I guess that also includes Zoo's that do research into Species preservation. Inokashira-Zoo actually is mostly a breeding zoo for endangered local species that are being reintroduced into the wild. It and Tama-Zoo are part of Ueno-Zoo.

Or the Zoo in Wakayama which has the most successful Giant Panda breeding program outside China. Lot more to Zoo's, etc than just exhibiting animals, much of what we know about many animal species comes from their research programs.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I first saw this elephant 28 years ago. Looks the same.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ it's me: Animals were doing fine in the wild until we humans started to either capture them for entertainment (i.e. most zoos) or destroy their natural habitat...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

tokyokawasaki.

Or domesticated them for hunting aid, food production, agriculture, warfare or pets. Guess what you want to be the dominant species and that means shaping and controlling your environment to advance your own goals/needs/ends. The lion won't be grazing alongside the sheep as some want us to belief.

Inkashira Zoo has an exhibit of the MOST dangerous animal on earth, go and visit it.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

It"S ME

Inkashira Zoo has an exhibit of the MOST dangerous animal on earth, go and visit it.

All shoved in little concrete and metal enclosures for the entertainment of people who find this sort of thing cute. Suppose those same people believe that animals also live and behave like this in the wild.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I want to see all gold fish freed as well,poor little fellers

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Is it an African or Asian Elephant? They are both very different but taste the same.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Yes, spends all her life in jail, but gets everything she needs. Fresh water, food on daily basis that not any of them can get in the wild. No attacks from other elephants, tigers, and poachers for their tusks, no long days of marching to find water and no weeks of starving. They even get medical care and can live long.

Yet, I must admit for some of us even miserable and life threatening freedom is more valuable than safe captivity. Many people live their all life in boring captivity not much better than animals have in zoos. For some it is even more boring and hopeless. They live in beehive sized small apartments, work all day in the same workshop or office room for all their lives, tired and rest on weekends, have no time and money to go anywhere, especially farmers. They never have a chance to move out of their closed world.

I am against zoos, but on the other hand I know they accommodate many injured animals who could never survive in the wild. For the rest of them I wish we could ask the animals which life they want to choose. I am sure some of them would choose the zoo. Hares are dying and starving in cold winters and eat their own excrement to get the undigested 3% of nutrition out of it. I am sure they would live in a zoo instead of freezing in their even smaller bolt-hole.

And one more thing. If it is a zoo it should be built for animals and not for visitors. The zoos in Singapore for instance are huge and give animals safety, capacious, roomy, and very natural environment. Sadly the zoos in Japan are miserable prison cells. They could afford building bigger and more natural-park like zoos. I know there are some, but most of the zoos here are right up with animal cruelty.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Just reminded me of the story about a (recently - at that time) captured elephant crying real tears until Rudyard Kipling came over and spoke to it in an Indian dialect it could understand and that actually calmed it down...

Happy Birthday Hanako !

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Having visited a few Zoo's in Japan I wish they would give them better enclosures. Soil and grass is what this old girl should be feeling under her feet. I was so sad when I went to Higashiyama zoo..the enclosures are so different compared to the way they are in the Zoo's I visited in the US. In Japan it is all concrete and no natural environment..this cannot be said for all the animals but many of them it was this way.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Quote tokyokawasaki "Animals were doing fine in the wild until we humans started to either capture them for entertainment (i.e. most zoos) or destroy their natural habitat..."

We started doing that about ...erm, tens of thousands of years ago. In fact it has grown so bad that many species are extinct. Some are extinct in the wild, but live on in zoos or zoo-ish environments. Should we thank the zoos and parks for staving off extinction? Should we pay entrance fees and subsidize their upkeep and hopefully give them an increasingly better environment. Or is it better and more romantic for species to be extinct?

Human activity is deadly for most wild animals, agreed. Yet to reintroduce some of these otherwise extinct animals to the wild would be a further sentence of death on them, just as cruel as anything else. Hard choices all round.

So now where do we stand?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's not that I have anything against zoos as such and the domestication of animals (I have three cats and a dog, so I would be a hypocrite if I did) but I abhor and avoid zoos like this one. All concrete and nothing that even resembles their natural environment. In Denmark we have quite a few zoos where the animals have big open enclosures, which resembles the animals natural living areas as much as possible. Such zoos I have nothing against but I refuse to ever visit a zoo like this one, where it's all concrete and nothing natural at all.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Maybe someone should start a Michelin Guide to zoos, with stars being awarded for excellence. Sadly we won't be able to ask the animals to do the grading. How about "The Michelin Blue Guide to Zoos"?

In the meantime thanks to Hanako for blazing the way! 65 years on the frontier.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

PS That enclosure looks like a good trap for rainwater and radiation. I wonder of they've tested for hotspots?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

she has daikon legs !!( front left )

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The San Diego Zoo Safari is nice..................

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ nandakandamanda: We started doing that about ...erm, tens of thousands of years ago. In fact it has grown so bad that many species are extinct. Some are extinct in the wild, but live on in zoos or zoo-ish environments. Should we thank the zoos and parks for staving off extinction? Should we pay entrance fees and subsidize their upkeep and hopefully give them an increasingly better environment. Or is it better and more romantic for species to be extinct?

We humans have only been around for a blink of an eye in evolutionary time. Animals lived in harmony with their surrounding for 100's of millions of years before we came along.

Face it, we humans are the cancer of the planet. These Zoo's are selfish and pathetic. Real animal sanctuaries with suitable living conditions (that replicate the wild) I can understand, but these (mainly concrete) small enclosures are an insult to our fellow earthlings. We all deserve the right to live in reasonable comfort... Anyone who visits these places and enjoys staring at animals purely for their shallow entertainment has no respect for animals... Without customers these 'chambers of horror' would not exist...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Face it, we humans are the cancer of the planet.

Not disagreeing but what should we do with the "cancer"(usually it is 100% excised/surgically removed and all cancer cels/humans destroyed). Are you ready for that? Willing to lay down your life for the good of the planet?

A cancer CANNOT live in harmony with the bigger environment it relies on. Sad but true, but be assured humans will extinct themselves before the rest of the planet dies.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Forgot removing the cancer can't undo the damage it caused while it was allowed to spread.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Hanako looks thin and said. Big, ranging animals like elephants do not belong in zoo.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

That pic reminds me of myself standing on a danchi balcony. Hanako probably has more living space tho.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sad, sad, sad. Don't tell me animals get looked after in zoos- if you were locked up alone in Buckingham Palace for life, would you be happy?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mods, is Hanako really "Asia's oldest elephant" as the title says?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Please end its misery"

Maybe Hanako isn't miserable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I love that zoo! Many happy memories when the twins were smaller with my mummy mates. However, everytime I saw Hanako I felt sadness and horror. She paces around in circles and doesn't look happy in her small enclosure. Even my kids felt the same way.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Will she get 65 comments here for her birthday, I wonder?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Some of the people who have posted the above messages should be ashamed of themselves. If they had read up on Hanako, they would know that she came to Japan in 1949. In 1949 few people in the world had a problem with keeping large animals in zoos. It's only relatively recently that more people have taken the view that it's wrong to keep large animals in zoos. When was the last time the people above told their parents and grandparents that they're cruel because their generations had no problem with large animals being kept in captivity?

So what would you do if you ran the zoo - stick her on a plane back to Thailand? She couldn't possibly survive in the wild. So, assuming she was fit enough to survive a plane journey, who would pay for her to go to and be kept in some reserve where she'd be guaranteed safety? Somehow I doubt the critics on Japantoday will be reaching for their credit cards...

There is no reason to believe that the zookeepers at Inokashira have done anything but give her all the love and attention she needs. Indeed, do you really think she'd live to 65 if she were miserable and poorly treated? I don't. The fact that she is still alive today and able to "greet" her well-wishers suggests that the staff that look after her are doing a bang-up job. Give credit where credit is due.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

According to the website:

Popular elephant, Hanako came from Thailand in 1949 when she was two years old. She is an elephant that has the longest breeding period in Japan. She moved from Ueno to Inokashira in 1954.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

cruel people do cruel things. Some facts never change.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

That zoo where this elephant is at is so small and so depressing. When I visited that place, I saw so many old animals all encaged in small areas that looks so old. That is one very sad zoo to go to.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

for her to go to and be kept in some reserve where she'd be guaranteed safety?

Fuji Safari Park ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites