Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Starving Elephants for Propaganda

A very interesting and sad read. Thank you Freddy!

Starving Elephants for Propaganda
The slaughter of animals in wartime Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo
Frederick S. LITTEN
(Munich/Germany; September 2009)

“Speaking of wartime Ueno Zoo, what comes to your mind? ‘The elephants were killed!’ Yes, that’s right.” So begins Sayônara Kaba-kun (Farewell, Hippo; Saotome, 1989), a picture book for grade school children.
There are numerous Japanese depictions and stories of the wartime slaughter of animals at Ueno Zoo: from the enormously popular and influential picture book Kawaisôna Zô (The Pitiful lephants) (Tsuchiya & Takebe, 2009)–originally published by TSUCHIYA Yukio as a short story for children in 1951, then as a picture book in 1970 with 163 editions to date–to the recent TV drama Zô no Hanako (The Elephants Hanako; Kôno & Terada, 2007). The story has also travelled outside Japan, with two English and one French translations of
Kawaisôna Zô1. Most of these depictions portray the slaughter of the animals as motivated by the wish to protect humans from more or less immediate danger and accept the starvation of the elephants as unavoidable. Scholarly studies have been published so far only in Japanese and tend to be critical only in some points (e.g., Hasegawa, 2000; originally published in 1981), if at all.
This study deals with what really happened at Ueno Zoo in the summer of 1943, how it came about, and how unique this event was. To put it into context I will present relevant information also from the years before and after the (main) slaughter and will look briefly at wartime developments at several zoological gardens in Europe and Japan.
Read the full article here:

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