Animals Lose Friend and Defender

Posted on by Ashley Fruno

Dr. Mel examining Mali at the Manila Zoo

Dr. Mel examining Mali at the Manila Zoo

It is with a heavy heart that PETA begins this new year by saying goodbye to a huge advocate for animals, Dr. Henry Melvyn Richardson.

Dr. Mel, as he was affectionately called by those who knew him, was a devoted champion of the humane treatment of animals. Whether it was an emergency bear rescue or an urgent veterinary assessment of a crippled elephant who was being used and abused by a circus, Dr. Mel could always be counted on to drop everything in order to help assess the situation. He was also known for his patience and endless compassion, never once accepting an apology for a midnight call for assistance.

He appealed to Philippines officials to release Mali, the only elephant in the country, who has spent nearly 40 years behind the same concrete walls. He traveled to Manila—with only a few days’ notice—to assess her health and communicated with zoo staff members and government officials about the importance of transferring her to a sanctuary. He also traveled to roadside displays, such as the notorious Natural Bridge Zoo in the U.S., in order to document conditions and demand changes. He observed elephants traveling with the Ringling Bros. circus and provided irrefutable arguments for why the circus should take ailing elephants off the road. And much more.

Those of us who worked with Mel know that the best way that we can honor his legacy is to take action for animals who are in trouble.

Posted by Jason Baker