National / Politics

Typhoon-hit zoo in Chiba reopens thanks to help from volunteers

Kyodo

A zoo in Chiba Prefecture that was struggling to provide water for its animals due to Typhoon Faxai reopened Saturday, encouraged by a wave of moral and material support from the public.

Ichihara Elephant Kingdom, a public zoo in Ichihara, had been closed since the storm on Monday triggered a massive blackout on the Boso Peninsula, southeast of Tokyo.

In the absence of electricity, zookeepers were forced to cut back on water provisions to elephants and other animals, as an in-house power generator has been the only way for it to pump water up from a well.

The zoo prioritized supplying water to female elephants with calves at the facility, which keeps 13 elephants along with other animals.

When the zoo called for help via its Facebook page on Thursday, many people offered assistance and more than 10 power generators, as well as food and water, were delivered to the facility.

“We feel really grateful,” said Sayuri Sakamoto, head of the zoo. “I hope that people will be all right,” the 69-year-old added, referring to local residents who are still trying to manage without electricity days after the storm.

Among the volunteers, a couple traveled nearly 300 km from Niigata Prefecture to the zoo with a power generator in tow.

A fellow zookeeper from Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, also provided help.

Haruyuki Kuroda, 50, delivered apples and vegetables to the zoo by car on Friday. “We were helped out when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck (in March 2011). I was relieved to find that the elephants were fine,” he said.

Parts of Chiba Prefecture were still without power Saturday, five days after the typhoon hit, despite Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s efforts to restore electricity to the area.