Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People and War


Title: Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People and War Author: Yukio Tsuchiya Illustrator: Ted Lewin Translator: Tomoko Tsuchiya Dykes
Publisher: Boston; Houghton Mifflin Company

Genre: Biography  Level: Intermediate Number of pages: 30 Pub. Date: 1988

Summary (Use your own words; 3-4 sentences; setting, characters, plot, conflict, resolution):

During World War Two, bombs were dropped every day on countries all over the world. Japan decides that they must put all of the animals in their zoo down so that if the zoo were destroyed the animals wouldn’t get out and destroy the city. They realize that starvation is the only way to put down the elephants because they couldn’t poison them. The elephants are hard to put down and their trainer suffers watching them. Today in the zoo there is a monument honoring the elephants that had to die for war.


This book is a biographical fiction. There are no quoted sources and no way of knowing if this actually happened. Although it says it is a true story many question this. However, this story is based around a real zoo, a real time period and the author says it is a true story so we must consider it a biography.


This book is really sad. While reading this book I could not believe that they killed their elephants by starvation. It is so inhumane. I was horrified. I had never thought about how the zoos would be impacted so intensely by the war. Animals would be dangerous to people but it still seems wrong to me that they would have to be killed. Also this book has led me to wonder if animals in different areas also had to be put down because of the war.

Another thing to mention is that many question the truth of this story. Below is an article about this controversy.



After: Students will research how different zoo’s were effected by war through out history.


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