Inokashira zoo celebrates birthday of oldest elephant

Kyodo

Inokashira Park Zoo in western Tokyo held an event Sunday to celebrate the birthday of the nation’s oldest Asian elephant.

Hanako turned 66 this year, becoming the oldest elephant kept by a Japanese zoo and the third-oldest in the world.

The event drew around 800 people. Hanako was given a birthday cake made with her favorite bread and fruit, and performed her specialty dance, rocking 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 nearby Mitaka.

“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 1949 from Thailand when she was 2 and has been at the zoo since 1954. Her actual birthday is unknown, so the zoo adds a year each Jan. 1.