Former First Lady Rep. Imelda Marcos Wants Mali Released To Sanctuary

Congresswoman Who Welcomed Mali to Manila in 1977 Joins PETA in Support of Elephant’s Retirement

For Immediate Release:

January 28, 2013

Manila — Thirty-six years ago, Rep. Imelda Marcos—then the first lady—welcomed the elephant Mali as a gift to the Philippines from Sri Lanka. Now, Rep. Marcos is joining People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia’s campaign to have Mali—an ailing and solitary 38-year-old elephant who is wasting away in the Manila Zoo—transferred to a reputable sanctuary in Thailand.

In a letter sent to President Benigno Aquino III, Rep. Marcos thanks the president for his directive to consider Mali for relocation to a sanctuary and explains that in 1977, Mali was “indeed a very precious symbol of friendship” between the Philippines and Sri Lanka. But now, writes Rep. Marcos, “many experts and animal rights advocates have suggested to transfer Mali to a sanctuary, where she can roam freely, socialize with other elephants, and live in her natural habitat.” Rep. Marcos continues, “If this transfer would protect the best interests of Mali, I post no objection on this and I would like to express my full support to this initiative. Though Mali would be greatly missed, I will be happy to see her embark on a journey towards a better life.”

In her current environment, Mali is denied socialization, stimulation, room to explore, and everything else that is natural and important to her. She endures intense confinement, loneliness, boredom, and isolation in an area a tiny fraction of the size of her natural habitat. “Conditions such as those that Mali has endured in Manila Zoo for 35 years, deprived of contact with that of [her] own kind, are guaranteed to ensure a wretched and unhappy life, and will lead to an early death,” says David Hancocks, a former zoo director who has been involved in managing and planning zoos for more than four decades.

In a sanctuary, she would have sufficient room, the crucial company of other elephants, and constant access to the best veterinary care.

Rep. Marcos joins a long list of prominent people—including Brigitte Bardot, Dr. Jane Goodall, the Archbishop of Cebu, and numerous veterinary experts—who have supported PETA Asia in calling for Mali’s retirement.

Rep. Marcos’ letter to President Aquino is available upon request. For more information, please visit