An Elephant for Japanese Children

Note to the Foreign Secretary, 18 June 1949.

You have seen the hundreds of letters I have received from Japanese children asking me to supply them with an elephant for their zoo in Tokyo. [1] In this connection I have also received a letter (attached) from the Chief of the Japanese Giant Salamander Breeding Association. He offers these Giant Salamanders in exchange apparently for our elephants. I do not know what a Giant Salamander is. Perhaps you could have an enquiry made from our zoological authorities as to whether it is desirable for us to get one.

But quite apart from this, I think, it is desirable for us to send an elephant to Japan. The difficulty is about transport. Would you please get in touch with our representative in Japan and inform him that I have received these hundreds of letters from Japanese children. It might be worthwhile to mention the names of some of the schools from which these letters have come. Tell him that we shall gladly send an elephant if arrangements for transport can be made by the Japanese authorities. [2] He might let us know what their reaction is.

As soon as we have decided upon this, our representative can give a party to these children and tell them of what we are doing. Meanwhile he should convey to them in such a manner as he thinks fit that I have received these letters and am considering this matter.

[1] The elephants in the Tokyo zoo were killed by Allied bombing during the War.

[2] Indira, a baby elephant, was handed over to the children of Japan as a gift on 1 October 1949.

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