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Vancouver Woman Raised $30K to Move This Elephant, But It’s Not Going Anywhere

'She's lived a sad life.'

This elephant ain't going anywhere. Photo via screenshot.

A bored, zombie-like elephant in Japan is not going to get the crowdfunded rescue Vancouverite Ulara Nakagawa had once hoped for.

After raising $30,000 to relocate the country's oldest elephant from her "concrete prison," Nakagawa visited the Tokyo zoo last week only to learn Hanako the elephant is well fed and "comfortable with her keepers." An animal welfare expert has ruled the move unsafe.

Nakagawa first learned Hanako's story when visiting Japan in September 2015. She found out the elephant was captured in Thailand at age two and kept alone for 61 years.


"It struck me she was living in that concrete enclosure for as long as my own mother has lived," she told VICE.

The Vancouver woman wrote she was "shocked and dismayed" by the elephant's living conditions in a blog post last year. She said the elephant appeared "lifeless" and lacked comfort and stimulation.

International media jumped on the story, sparking a petition to send the giant mammal to a sanctuary. That petition has over 430,000 signatures to date.

Nakagawa decided to raise money for the move earlier this year, amassing US $30,000 in one month. The Inokashira Park Zoo has agreed to review the elephant's living conditions, and Nakagawa says the money raised will now go towards heaters, a running water basin, and other home improvements for Hanako.

"For Hanako it's too late, she's turning 70 this month," Nakagawa said. "[Elephant behaviour consultant Carol Buckley] has without a doubt stated it would not be safe to move her out of the zoo. We also determined there's no elephant sanctuaries in Japan."

"She's not going to be moved, and that still doesn't mean she's fine," added Nakagawa, disputing recent media reports. "She's lived a sad life."

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