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Call for donations to build bronze statue of late iconic elephant

Hanako is shown playing with a length of wood in this May 20, 2011 file photo. (Mainichi)

The mayor of the Tokyo suburban city of Musashino has announced that donations will be solicited to make a bronze statue of Hanako, the iconic Asiatic elephant that died at age 69 at a zoo there in May of this year.

    Hanako arrived from Thailand in 1949, and initially lived at Ueno Zoo. But at the request of residents in Musashino and its neighboring suburb of Mitaka, she was moved to Tokyo Metropolitan Inokashira Park Zoo in Musashino in 1954, where she lived for 62 years until her death.

    Hanako had many fans, including three generations of families in the area, and there had been calls to commemorate her life and pass down her memory to future generations.

    A statue project committee was set up on Aug. 16, with Musashino city mayor Morimasa Murakami as its chairman, and other members such as the chairman of the Musashino Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the director of Inokashira Park Zoo.

    At a regular news conference on Aug. 29, Murakami said that donation boxes would be set up from Aug. 30 through the end of March next year at Musashino City Hall, the Inokashira Park Zoo, public libraries, and other locations in the city. The goal is to raise approximately 10 million yen for a bronze statue about 1.5 meters wide, and to install it in front of Kichijoji Station in May 2017 to commemorate the centennial of the zoo. Artist Aki Fueda, who for years has made art based on Hanako, will be commissioned to make a model of the statue.

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