Is The World’S Saddest Elephant In The Philippines?

Manila Zoo’s Ailing Elephant Needs to Go to a Sanctuary Now, Says PETA

For Immediate Release:

May 14, 2013

Taipei — The shooting of a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisher by the Philippine Coast Guard is not the only thing that we should be outraged about. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia has been campaigning for years to help Mali, the lonely elephant who has lived for 36 years at the Manila Zoo, to be transferred to a sanctuary. Mali is the Philippines’ only captive elephant—and one of the world’s saddest.

In the wild, elephants roam territories of up to 50 kilometers every day, but Mali is confined to a very small barren concrete enclosure at the Manila Zoo, which covers an area of only 0.055 square kilometers. She has been denied the opportunity to engage in activities that elephants need for their physical, mental, and emotional health, such as grazing, plucking fruit and leaves from trees, taking mud baths, and spending hours a day swimming and playing in the water. Whereas female elephants spend their entire lives in the wild alongside their mothers in extended family clans, Mali hasn’t even seen another elephant in more than three decades.

The zoo doesn’t have a veterinarian with experience or expertise in caring for elephants. A report by world-renowned elephant expert Dr. Henry Richardson, who visited the Philippines to examine Mali, indicates that her confinement to a concrete enclosure has led to severe foot problems—the leading cause of death among captive elephants. She is also exhibiting behavior that indicates that she is in constant pain, yet the Manila Zoo continues to deny her treatment.

However, all this is about to change—Mali has an opportunity for a second chance at life. A sanctuary in Thailand that has agreed to take Mali would be able to provide her with a happy life in the company of 11 other elephants. Philippines President Benigno Aquino III has issued a directive stating that Mali’s health must be evaluated and that she must be considered for transfer to a sanctuary. But despite letters of support for Mali’s move from more than a dozen elephant experts and support from more than 50 international animal-protection organizations, thousands of school students, and more than half the Philippine senate, zoo officials are coming up with every excuse that they can think of to prevent Mali from going anywhere.

An online petition that supports Mali’s transfer to a sanctuary has already garnered nearly 70,000 signatures. Celebrities such as Hu Ge have spoken up for Mali on social-networking sites as well. “The international outcry for an end to Mali’s loneliness and suffering grows louder with each passing day, but the Manila Zoo has turned a deaf ear,” says PETA Asia’s Hailey Chang. “Now, it’s time for everyone in Taiwan to take action and help free Mali.”

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