​'Loneliest elephant in the world' dies at Tokyo zoo

Tragic Hanako passed away at 69

​'Loneliest elephant in the world' dies at Tokyo zoo

An elephant who was described as the loneliest in the world has died in Tokyo at the age of 69.

The plight of Hanako became world famous as animal rights campaigners tried to have her moved so she could live out the rest of her life in a sanctuary.

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She was given to Japan as a gift from the government of Thailand in 1949 and had lived alone in her depressing concrete enclosure at Inokashira Park Zoo since she was two years old, reports the BBC.

The Elephant Freedom Fighters set up a online petition to have her moved from her "concrete prison" to a sanctuary in Thailand. Over 470,000 people signed it but she was deemed too old to make the journey.

Hanako was found lying on her side on Thursday morning and efforts to revive her were unsuccessful.

According to the Telegraph, Kiyoshi Nagai, head of the zoo, said: "She passed away quietly and calmly. It is truly regrettable. She was the most loved elephant in Japan. I am grateful to all the people who loved her."

Blogger Ulara Nakagawa described the zoo as "one of the cruellest, most archaic zoos in the modern world".

The petition was launched after Ulara wrote about the situation and it read: "She just stands there, appearing almost lifeless, since there is nothing else for her to do. It was beyond painful for Ulara to take in Hanako's pitiful situation."

A spokesman for Peta said at the time: "She is denied the opportunity to feel grass beneath her feet, the company of other elephants and even the chance to see anything but a grey wall."

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