R.I.P Himeko the elephant.
Himeko was brought to the Himeji City Zoo in 1994. She was imprisoned there, totally alone: for 26 long, lonely years. During "business hours" at this noisy zoo and amusement park, Himeko faced away from visitors and coped with her stress by bobbing and swaying non stop and banged her tail repeatedly against the steel door of her pen.
The rest of the time she was trapped in a tiny, dark concrete indoor cell—with no food or water readily available—for 18 hours a day.
If that wasn't enough of a deprived life for an elephant, each day, Himeko was forced to "perform" for the crowds—despite having a painful foot disease for years that would not fully go away and ultimately resulted in her death. Trainers entered her outdoor enclosure and intimidate her with painful, sharp bullhooks. They forced Himeko to do tricks, like walk around in a circle and kneel down to have her head brushed with a broom.
This is an undeserved punishment for an animal that is naturally highly intelligent and social. Elephants live up to 60-70 years, and are exceptionally social animals who have families and friends. They grieve their dead.
Himeko lost her chance at a better life: BUT so her suffering wasn't in vain: WE MUST MAKE SURE THE ZOO NEVER GETS ANOTHER ELEPHANT AGAIN.
We demand that in the wake of Himeko's death, the Himeji City Zoo close down Himeko's exhibit and tell us that they will not get another elephant to replace her. The Inokashira Park Zoo in Tokyo did after the death of their solitary elephant Hanako in 2016 and are now officially an "elephant-free" zoo in Japan. Let's make this trend grow in Japan and elsewhere!
As you know, there is now a growing global debate about the keeping of elephants in captivity, with many experts taking the position that elephants should not be kept in traditional zoos at all. Nowhere is this debate more relevant than in the discussion about elephants kept in social isolation.
Thank you for making sure there will be no more "Himekos" ever again at the Himeji City Zoo!