Japanese Zoologist Masanori Hata Dies at 87

Tokyo: Japanese zoologist and filmmaker Masanori Hata, who made connecting humans with animals his life’s purpose, has died at 87.

Mutsugoro, as he was fondly known, was famous for directing The Adventures of Milo and Otis, an 80s classic about the unlikely friendship between a kitten and a pug.

Back home in Japan, he also served as an oracle of sorts for TV audiences who wanted to better understand their pets. He reportedly died of a heart attack, BBC news reported.

He lived much of his life at a ranch in Hokkaido, an island in northern Japan, which he shared with his wife, brown bears, horses and dogs of a variety of breeds and sizes.

The property, which he often called an “animal kingdom” is named after him – Mutsugoro in Japanese means mudfish. The ranch was also the setting for The Adventures of Milo and Otis. Released in 1986, the film is still loved by children from that decade.

Hata was born in Fukuoka City in south-west Japan. He earned a degree in animal physiology at the University of Tokyo, then joined the film division of educational firm Gakken, where he made over 20 documentaries.

He won the Japan Essayist’s Club Award in 1968 for a book with the English translation, We animals are all brothers. In 1977, he won Japan’s Kikuchi Kan Prize for literature.

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