Hanako, known as the world’s saddest elephant, died after spending over sixty years living alone in a tiny concrete cell at a zoo in Tokyo, Japan. It was only last year that her appalling living conditions were brought to light after a visitor wrote an online post calling the zoo, Inokashira Park, “one of the cruelest, most archaic zoos in the modern world.” There was no grass, no trees, and no company for Hanako, and this video shows her just swaying back and forth looking for any way to pass the time.
Inokashira Park refused to release Hanako to a sanctuary, claiming that she was happy and healthy. Unfortunately, and very clearly, this was not the case as she was found collapsed in her cage on the morning of Thursday, May 26th. According to the Japan Times, she died a few short hours later at age 69.
Hanako spent over sixty years of her life without friendship and company. Elephants are extremely social animals and suffer ill effects when left alone for so long. Hanako had a history of violence due to this, which only worsened her situation. She spent many years chained up, or in the deplorable cell that Inokashira Park had the gall to call a suitable environment.
Although Hanako’s tragic story has come to an end, there are still many elephants living in similar or even worse conditions. For a creature so majestic and friendly to be spending their lives like this is a shame and guilt that all humans should share.
Rest in Peace, Hanako. Your legacy and story will hopefully bring a change in this world.H/T The Dodo