Vancouver blogger Ulara Nakagawa inspires petition to save elephant in Japan

A Vancouver woman's impassioned blog post about an elderly elephant living in a Japanese zoo has inspired an online petition that has garnered nearly 380,000 signature urging better care for the creature.

More than 380,000 people have signed the petition urging better care for the creature

Hanako is a 69-year-old captive Asian elephant living at Inokashira Park Zoo in Tokyo, says Vancouver blogger Ulara Nakagawa. (soranyan/Flickr)

A Vancouver woman's impassioned blog post about an elderly elephant living in a Japanese zoo has inspired an online petition that has garnered more than 380,000 signature urging better care for the creature.

"I wrote a blog post and then I shared it on social media. Honestly, I didn't know what would happen next," said Ulara Nakagawa .

In her blog, Nakagawa wrote that the 69-year-old elephant, called Hanako, is living in "shameful conditions" after viewing it at the Inokashira Park Zoo in Tokyo.

"It's a concrete, small enclosure with grey hard surfaces where she has no companionship," she said.

Nakagawa says she was shocked and dismayed to see the animal stand almost lifeless like a figurine while hundreds of thousands of global tourists visit.

She says a Japanese magazine article describes Hanako as the country's oldest living captive elephant, which has lived in a cement enclosure since being transported from Thailand in 1949.

Nakagawa says she's hoping people who signed the petition will donate money to fund an independent assessment of the elephant's health, and then move it to an enhanced enclosure or wildlife sanctuary.

Zoo deputy director Hidemasa Hori has acknowledged the park is not fully equipped to keep an elephant, but believes the animal is too old to be moved safely.

With files from CBC News

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