Himeji City Zoo in Japan was home to one of the saddest, loneliest elephants in the world. Himeko gained global attention for her 26 year-long plight at the facility, causing activists and other compassionate humans to call for her release. But her freedom was only handed to her in death: the poor animal passed away in October 2020, succumbing to a foot disease that her captors let her suffer from while still forcing her to perform. Himeko’s life for the past 26 years was a repeated, miserable pattern.
Himeko spent 18 hours a day locked away in a dark, concrete indoor cell with zero access to food or water. The other 6 hours were spent performing unnatural tricks like walking in circles or kneeling down in front of noisy, stressful crowds. Himeko was known for her constant bobbing, swaying, and banging her tail against the steel door of her pen — behaviors that captive animals exhibit when they are frustrated, bored, depressed, or anxious. Elephants, as a species, are highly intelligent, highly social, and should live long, relaxed lives; the life that Himeko was forced into could not have been more the opposite. Sign the petition and demand that Himeko be the last elephant ever kept at the Himeji City Zoo!