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An Urgent Update: Miyako the Solitary Captive Elephant

An Urgent Update: Miyako the Solitary Captive Elephant

TL;DR (Too long, didn’t read): 

Miyako’s situation is more dire than ever. Recent footage viewed by elephant experts reveals alarming changes in her condition:

  • Worsened foot abnormalities, potential swelling, and poor cuticles. 
  • Deteriorated physical health, tiredness, and frequent standing naps.
  • Signs of discomfort, stiff and sore joints, and demonstrative behavior, suggesting she is not happy or at ease in her current situation.

Renowned elephant biologist Dr. Keith Lindsay says the apparent decline in Miyako’s health is “significant and startling,” and “a cause for serious concern.”

Miyako’s condition has significantly worsened since in the past few years alone, mainly due to substandard conditions and care at Utsunomiya Zoo. 

Miyako urgently needs specialized veterinary attention, proper testing, and a move to a larger, stimulating enclosure with soft substrate and adequate care.

Together, we can make a difference. 

What can you do to help Miyako? Here is a checklist of actions:

  1. Sign the petition on Care2 HERE
  2. Follow Elephants in Japan for updates and calls to action: FacebookInstagramTwitter
  3. Share Miyako’s story with the hashtag, #HelpMiyako.
  4. Send a message to Utsunomiya Zoo on social media: FacebookTwitterInstagram

Here is a sample message in Japanese you can copy and paste: 

Facebook/Instagram:  .@elephantsinjapanの宮子に関する最新情報を拝見し、彼女の足の健康状態をとても心配しています。Elephants in Japan(info@elephantsinjapan.com)と協力し、経験豊富なゾウの専門家に彼女の健康状態を診断してもらい、必要なフットケアが受けられるようにご支援をお願いします

Twitter:  .@utsunomiya_zoo: .@japanelephants の宮子に関する最新情報を拝見し、彼女の足の健康状態をとても心配しています。Elephants in Japan(info@elephantsinjapan.com)と協力し、経験豊富なゾウの専門家に彼女の健康状態を診断してもらい、必要なフットケアが受けられるようにご支援をお願いします 

(English translation of the above message is: “I am deeply concerned about Miyako’s foot health after reading @elephantsinjapan‘s update on her. Please work with Elephants in Japan (info@elephantsinjapan.com)  to provide her experienced elephant specialists to assess her health and help you with much needed footcare.”) 

Let’s be the voice for Miyako! Spread the word and take action. Together, we can create positive change for her.

Thank you. 

You Can Further Help Elephants in Japan in a Critical Way: 

EIJ is actively seeking Japanese advisors to provide input, advice and other assistance to help inform and deliver EIJ program activities in Japan. If you have an interest in or passion for helping wildlife, including elephants in Japan, satisfy any of the criteria listed below and want to volunteer with EIJ’s critical work, we want to hear from you. Are you:

  • a current or former politician,
  • a current or former elected or civic administration official at any level of government,
  • a member of academia that specializes in a relevant governmental, public policy development, environmental or biological field of study,
  • a lawyer with an interest in laws, regulations and policies regarding wildlife in captivity in Japan and or other relevant areas of animal welfare and/or wildlife protection,
  • a business person with a successful track record of governmental relations and an in-depth knowledge of government processes and power dynamics,
  • an expert translator with strong ability in verbal and written Japanese/English and English/Japanese translation.

If you are any of the above, the elephants need your help. Please contact  EIJ at  info@elephantsinjapan.com 

 

Longer version with additional detail: 

 

We are deeply concerned about the welfare of Miyako, the captive solitary elephant at the Utunomiya Zoo in Japan. Elephants in Japan reached out to an experienced elephant expert to view recent footage of Miyako, taken over a period of approximately one hour between the hours of noon and 3 pm Japan time, on March 21, 2023. The individual expert, whose identity shall remain confidential, brings a wealth of expertise and authority in the field of elephants, with a background in veterinary care spanning over 15 years, including specialties in orthopedics, emergency care, holistic medicine, and wildlife. The expert noted several alarming observations that raise serious concerns about Miyako’s current condition. 

Based on these new observation notes from March 2023, we can conclude there are significant changes in Miyako’s situation in the 6 years since 2017 when elephant biologist Dr. Keith Lindsay visited her and documented his findings in his report, “Solitary Elephants in Japan,” available on our website:

  • Miyako’s foot abnormalities have worsened considerably. The outside nail on her back right foot is significantly overgrown, her cuticles are in poor condition, and there is potential swelling on her back feet.
  • Miyako’s physical condition and overall health have deteriorated greatly. She appears tired and frequently takes standing naps.
  • Miyako is showing more signs of discomfort. She exhibits stiff and sore joints, and she swings her trunk out and engages in demonstrative behavior like spitting when she is filmed.

Overall, Miyako’s condition has become much worse since Dr. Lindsay’s observations in 2017, primarily due to the substandard conditions and care provision at Utsunomiya Zoo, which have remained unchanged. He says: 

While it is difficult to provide a definitive conclusion from study of a limited collection of video clips, the decline in her general health during the 6 years since I first observed her does appear to be significant and startling. Her lack of energy and difficulty in taking even small steps represent a dramatic change for the worse, and a cause for serious concern.”

Urgent action is required to improve Miyako’s living conditions. Miyako urgently requires specialized attention from a veterinarian well-versed in elephant health, foot care, and assessment. Proper testing and assessments can be conducted to form scientifically-based determinations on the status of Miyako’s current health and ensure that her outward deterioration is not linked to a critical health issue. Timely intervention can lead to improvements in Miyako’s condition, making immediate action imperative. She must be relocated to a larger and more stimulating enclosure with a soft substrate, ample enrichment items, and adequate, ongoing professional husbandry, veterinary care, and health monitoring. Access to an appropriate pool is crucial to alleviate the pressure on her feet. (The existing pool installed through a crowdfunding campaign conducted by the zoo is insufficient and has compromised her total space.) 

Based on the expert’s assessment, it is very evident that Miyako is in a highly compromised state. We urgently call for attention to her welfare and the need for immediate intervention to improve her foot health, and to address the other issues highlighted. Elephants in Japan is ready and willing to provide the services of a highly experienced expert in elephant health, at no cost to owner of Miyako,  It is our collective responsibility to ensure the well-being of all animals in captivity, and we urge everyone to raise awareness about Miyako’s case and advocate for the necessary measures to improve her living conditions. Together, we can make a difference and promote the ethical treatment of captive animals.

*Please note that this statement is based on the provided information and does not reflect real-time or comprehensive knowledge of the specific elephant’s situation.

Elephants in Japan has been reaching out to Miyako’s Zoo and its owner since 2018, sending numerous daily emails from petition signers, along with multiple deliveries of the petition via mail. 

Unfortunately, there has been no engagement from the owner in our diplomatic attempts to collaborate and improve Miyako’s welfare. We have offered to connect him with elephant care experts worldwide and even provide medical and health care for her. We will persist until he responds. Our fight for Miyako must continue relentlessly.

Our ultimate goal is to raise awareness about Miyako’s plight, ensure her story is known, and let the zoo and its owner understand that we will not give up on Miyako.

 

You Can Further Help Elephants in Japan in a Critical Way: 

EIJ is actively seeking Japanese advisors to provide input, advice and other assistance to help inform and deliver EIJ program activities in Japan. If you have an interest in or passion for helping wildlife, including elephants in Japan, satisfy any of the criteria listed below and want to volunteer with EIJ’s critical work, we want to hear from you. Are you:

  • a current or former politician,
  • a current or former elected or civic administration official at any level of government,
  • a member of academia that specializes in a relevant governmental, public policy development, environmental or biological field of study,
  • a lawyer with an interest in laws, regulations and policies regarding wildlife in captivity in Japan and or other relevant areas of animal welfare and/or wildlife protection,
  • a business person with a successful track record of governmental relations and an in-depth knowledge of government processes and power dynamics,
  • an expert translator with strong ability in verbal and written Japanese/English and English/Japanese translation.

If you are any of the above, the elephants need your help. Please contact  EIJ at  info@elephantsinjapan.com 

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