Tokyo zoo celebrates birthday of Japan’s oldest elephant

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Inokashira Park Zoo in western Tokyo held an event to celebrate the birthday of Japan’s oldest Asian elephant. Hanako turned 66 this year, becoming the oldest ever elephant kept by a Japanese zoo and the third oldest in the world.

The ceremony for Hanako was attended by around 800 people on Sunday.

She was given a birthday cake made of her favourite bread and fruit, and performed her speciality dance by rocking her body from side to side.

“I was amazed to see her so spry despite her old age,” said Akito Yokoi, a 10-year-old boy from Mitaka in Tokyo who attended the event.

“She is a star loved by many,” said Etsuo Narushima, head of the zoo, expressing hope that Hanako will live as long as possible for her fans.

Hanako arrived in Japan in 1949 from Thailand when she was two years old and has been kept at the zoo since 1954.

Since her actual birthday is unknown, the zoo regards her as older by a year each January.

According to the zoo, Hanako had a period of ill health around a year ago but is in stable condition.

Last year Hanako tied with Suwako, who died in 2008 at a Kobe zoo, as the oldest elephant ever in Japan.



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