For Immediate Release:
July 25, 2013
July 25 marks the 54th anniversary of the Manila Zoo, but it’s nothing to celebrate. In fact, it’s a somber occasion for animal lovers throughout the Philippines and the rest of the world. For 54 years, the decrepit, barren, trash-filled Manila Zoo has been imprisoning animals in cages and pens that are a tiny fraction of the size of the animals’ habitats in nature. Denied everything that is natural and important to them, animals at the zoo suffer—physically and mentally—from constant confinement, spending their days exhibiting neurotic repetitive behavior, such as biting the bars of their cages, pacing, and circling. Even if the zoo were to be doubled or tripled in size, it would still never be able to meet the animals’ complex needs.
Mali, the lonely and ailing elephant at the zoo, is a prime example. She is in pain—a direct result of never having received proper preventive foot care, which every reputable zoo in the world provides to elephants. She is exhibiting a behavior called “favoring,” meaning she repeatedly shifts weight off one leg at a time, which veterinarians say is a clear sign of constant pain. Numerous scientific studies have revealed that the opportunity to socialize is essential to the well-being of female elephants, yet Mali has been housed alone for more than three decades. She needs to be transferred to a sanctuary, where she can receive medical care from experts and finally have the chance to socialize with other elephants. Renovating the zoo will take years, and every day until then, she will continue to suffer. And even after a renovation, the zoo would still not be able to support her needs the way that a sanctuary would.
PETA routinely receives complaints from residents and tourists about the Manila Zoo and the poor condition of the animals kept there. The majority of these complaints address the unsanitary conditions. Trash litters the facility as well as many of the animals’ cages, presenting a clear danger to the animals if they ingest it. Many visitors have commented on the strong smell coming from the animals’ enclosures. The zoo also hosts several wishing ponds that feature animals, including a snake, a crocodile, rabbits, and fish. The ingestion of foreign objects thrown into animals’ enclosures is a large problem in zoos around the world, and actually encouraging visitors to do such a thing—as the Manila Zoo does—is cause for alarm.
Right now, all the guinea pigs and rabbits at the Manila Zoo appear to be suffering from severe skin infections, possibly caused by mites, which have caused them to lose patches of their fur and develop crusts and scabs. The ostrich suffers from severe feather loss, which likely has been caused by self-mutilation. Dead birds have been spotted at the Manila Zoo on several occasions, including one inside the ostrich enclosure.
In 54 years, the Manila Zoo has changed little. Today, it stands as a monument to archaic thinking, greed, and gratuitous suffering. It has become a source of shame for an otherwise proud nation.