Imagine, if you can, a youngster, shipped to a strange and frightening place, never to see her family or home ever again. But no alert is ever issued, no reward for her safe return offered. This is because the victim is an elephant, Mali, the lone elephant at the Manila Zoo.
This nursing baby was taken from Sri Lanka in 1977 and has spent the last 36 years in a small, concrete pen.
Try to imagine living your whole life in a room the size of a bedroom, seeing the same four walls every day. You’d have no friends or companionship and nothing whatsoever to pass the time or provide you with comfort. You’d never get to leave. That’s exactly what life is like for Mali.
Captivity has taken its toll on Mali. The hard concrete she stands on has left her with foot problems. An independent veterinarian from the U.S. (there are no veterinarians with expertise in caring for elephants in the Philippines) has determined that Mali is in constant pain, but the zoo is not providing any treatment for her ailments. They have admitted they don’t know how to properly care for an elephant. The most common cause of premature death among captive elephants is arthritis and foot infections.
Mali is a mere shell of the magnificent being she’s meant to be. She is the only captive elephant in the Philippines, and she needs to be retired without delay. Last year, the Office of the President issued a directive stating that Mali should be considered for transfer to a sanctuary after an evaluation of her health.
A sanctuary can offer her acres to roam, ponds to bathe in, fresh vegetation to eat, foraging opportunities and, most importantly, the company of many other elephants. But despite the fact that PETA has offered to cover the entire cost of the transfer, authorities are stalling PETA’s efforts to facilitate Mali’s move to a sanctuary.