It was cherry blossom time, and in the last phase of WW2, the bombs fell on Tokyo like rain. By the command of the army, all the animals in Ueno Zoo were to be shot or poisoned, for there were fears the animals would escape. All the lions, tigers and bears and big snakes will killed. The three elephants, called John, Tonky, and Wanly were given poison, but they refused to eat it. There keepers hearts were broken as they were ordered to starve the elephants. As they got thinner they would do circus tricks to get one peanut or a drop of water. John took 17 days to die. Their keepers prayed for an end to war so Tonky and Wanly could be fed. They died two weeks after John. Their tomb at Ueno zoo is covered with paper cranes, made by children.
From the forthcoming book Zooicide
Sue Coe grew up in Liverpool and studied at the Royal College of Art in London. One of the preeminent political artists of our generation, she has spent years documenting the atrocities committed by people against animals and continues to generate both prints and art on that subject. Her publications include How to Commit Suicide in South Africa; Police State; Dead Meat; Bully! Master of the Global Merry-GoRound; Sheep of Fools…A Song Cycle for Five Voices and The Ghosts of our Meat. She lives in upstate New York.