Keeping a Highly Social Animal in Solitary Confinement Is ‘Immeasurably Cruel,’ Says Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick
For Immediate Release:
March 8, 2013
Manila —Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, so titled after Queen Elizabeth II appointed her a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, has been intimately involved with elephants for the past 58 years. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, named for her late husband and which she now heads, has rehabilitated more than 150 orphaned elephants. Currently, more than 40 of them are fully grown and live among the wild herds of Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, and 39 others are in the process of being reintroduced into the wild. Sheldrick is now calling on the Manila Zoo to release Mali—an ailing, solitary Asian elephant who has been confined to a small enclosure for the past 36 years—to a reputable sanctuary in Thailand that has already agreed to accept her.
“[T]he most important thing in [an elephant’s] life [are] friends, and family, as it is for us humans,” writes Sheldrick, who in 2005 was named by the Smithsonian Institution one of 35 people worldwide who have made a difference in animal husbandry and wildlife conservation. “To separate an Elephant from others for life is immeasurably cruel and counter-productive to both the emotional and social wellbeing of the animal, with possible adverse physical damage as well. I therefore appeal, on behalf of Elephant Mali, who cannot speak for herself, to afford her access to others, and in so doing heal her lonely soul.”
Sheldrick joins a number of notable elephant experts who are also advocating for Mali’s transfer as well as Philippine and international celebrities who have rallied to her cause, including wildlife conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, Nobel Prize-winning author J.M. Coetzee, film legend Brigitte Bardot, and renowned veterinarian Dr. Henry Melvyn Richardson. Among Sheldrick’s numerous other honors, she was named to the United Nations Environment Programme’s elite Global 500 Roll of Honor in 1992 and received the British Broadcasting Company’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.