Japan’s Oldest Elephant Turning 65


TOKYO, Jan. 12 (UPI) — The oldest Asian elephant in Japan will turn 65 next month and officials at the Inokashira Park Zoo in western Tokyo say they’re planning a party for her.

The elephant, named Hanako, has been living at the zoo for more than 50 years and has never had a major disease or injury, her keepers say.

“She likes people very much,” Miwa Saito, 28, one of four keepers who look after the pachyderm, told Kyodo News.

Hanako is fed about 120 to 175 pounds per day of fruit and vegetables, fresh grass and hay and bread, keepers said. Her food is cut into small pieces since the elephant lost all but one of her four teeth about 30 years ago.

Although friendly, Hanako is very timid and nervous, keepers said, and dislikes sounds such as sirens, thunder and passing aircraft.

When the March 11 earthquake struck, Hanako began running around her compound area but calmed down after a staff member hurried there to see her, Saito said.

Born in Thailand in 1947 — her actual birthday is not known — Hanako arrived in Japan in 1949, the first elephant to come to the country after World War II.

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