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Philippines’ Elephant Mali Dies After Decades Alone

Zoo officials in the Philippine capital, Manila, on Wednesday announced that an elephant that lived a solitary existence in a cage for several decades had died.

While Mali was a popular attraction at the city’s zoo, she was also at the center of a global campaign to be relocated to join other members of her species.

What the officials said

The animal’s death was announced at a news conference by Manila City Mayor Honey Lacuna.

“Mali was our prized possession and was the star attraction here at the Manila Zoo,” Lacuna said, recalling that her parents had taken her to the zoo to see the elephant. “It saddens me because she was part of our lives.”

Zoo veterinarian Heinrich Domingo told reporters that an autopsy had found that Mali had pancreatic cancer and rejected accusations she had been neglected. “We were her family,” he said.

What others said about Mali’s treatment

Meanwhile, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) group condemned authorities for keeping Mali alone for so long, given that elephants are known to be social creatures that live in herds in the wild.

“Because of indifference and greed, Mali the elephant died the same way she had lived for nearly 50 years: alone in a concrete pen at the Manila Zoo,” PETA said in a statement.

“The Manila Zoo and the city of Manila sentenced Mali to decades of solitary confinement, which is torturous for female elephants, who naturally would spend their lives among their mothers and sisters, protecting one another and raising each other’s calves,” PETA said.

The group also accused the zoo and the Philippines government of ignoring Mali’s “clearly painful foot problems.”

Celebrities including prominent animal behavior expert Jane Goodall and music legend Paul McCartney had joined PETA’s campaign to call for Mali to be moved to a sanctuary, where she could have enjoyed the company of other elephants.

Some social media users expressed sadness over Mali’s death but also hit out at the zoo and city officials for her treatment.

“No more small enclosure for you. Run free Mali,” said one Facebook user, with another commenting that “they killed her long before her physical death.”

Mali was presented as a gift from Sri Lanka in 1977 to then Filipino first lady Imelda Marcos, the wife of dictator Ferdinand Marcos and mother of current President Bongbong Marcos.

The elephant was only three years old when she arrived in Manila.

A similar outcry surrounded the treatment of another elephant, Kaavan, who was moved from Islamabad zoo to a sanctuary in Cambodia in 2020 after a campaign spearheaded by the US singer Cher.

Source : DW