Miyako, the elephant that has been kept captive in a cramped barren pen at Utsunomiya Zoo in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, for 50 years, could be moved to a sanctuary. Still, the zoo refuses to let her go. Miyako is forced to stand in a small concrete enclosure amid her own waste day after day, and she already shows signs of zoochosis (the mental disorder captive wild animals experience in zoos) as she shows stereotypic behavior in the form of swaying back and forth, as well as gripping and shaking with her teeth the steel bar in her outdated enclosure.

Miyako was taken from her family and home in Thailand shortly after her birth and has been held in a concrete enclosure for half a century. She has been denied interaction with other elephants, which is essential for her mental health. 

The animal rights group PETA Asia has contacted Utsunomiya Zoo’s owner offering to help transfer Miyako to a sanctuary or facility where she would have space to roam and other elephants to socialize with for the first time (like an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, where she comes from). However, he has so far refused. PETA Asia has set up an English petition for Miyako to increase the pressure.

PETA also asked its supporters to comment on the zoo’s Facebook, Instagram, and  X (formerly Twitter) accounts and ask it to accept PETA’s offer to transfer Miyako to a more suitable facility where she doesn’t have to suffer in isolation. Miyako’s time is running out, and Japanese animal protection advocates urgently want to rally global support to move her to a better environment as soon as possible. 

Other lonely elephants in other zoos in the world, such as Billy from the Los Angeles Zoo, US,  are also in the same situation, so animal rights groups are calling for their transfer to sanctuaries as well. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.