Despite international outrage, Inokashira Park refused to release Hanako to a sanctuary, saying she was happy and healthy. Instead, the zoo met with animal welfare expert Carol Buckley, and said it would be instituting changes to Hanako's home and routine based on her recommendations.
But it was too little, too late. On Thursday morning, keepers found Hanako collapsed in her cage, according to the Japan Times. They tried to move her so her weight wouldn't crush her, but she passed away a few hours later.
She was 69 years old.
While elephants are social animals who build lifelong relationships with family and friends, Hanako's life was devoid of emotional connections. Born in Thailand in 1947, she was shipped to Japan's Ueno Zoo at just 2 years old to replace some elephants who had been left to starve to death during World War II, according to an earlier report by the Japan Times.