Manila Zoo’s lonely elephant

In 2013, I wrote several newspapers to express my sadness and indignation at the plight of Mali, the only elephant imprisoned in Manila Zoo. I used to not care about commercial zoos and ocean parks, but I am now strongly opposed to the practice of keeping animals imprisoned for the sole purpose of entertaining humans. But more on that in another post. I will just repost my letter to the editor for now, published by the Philippine Star two days before Christmas 2013. You can read it here, but I’m pasting the contents below also. If you want to help Mali, visit the Free Mali website and find out how you can take action.

Time to free Mali
(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 23, 2013 – 12:00am

Imagine being imprisoned in a tiny cage for 36 years without contact with your loved ones and without proper medical attention for ailments you contracted while in captivity. For no other reason other than the entertainment of people and the greed of some politicians. Such has been the plight of Mali, the lone elephant in Manila Zoo.

I am infuriated by the government of the City of Manila, who has been staunch in their resolve to make Mali stay in Manila Zoo, this despite a directive issued by President Noynoy Aquino himself, and calls by the international community for her freedom! The Manila Zoo’s plan to import additional elephants is outrageous, as they could barely provide for a single elephant, and now they want to add two more! Currently, the zoo holds 700 animals from 104 species within a concrete and iron jungle. Even with the so-called upcoming modernization of the Manila Zoo, they can never provide anything close to what elephants get from their natural habitats. I read that in the wild, elephants move up to 50 kilometers or more every day in a diverse environment that includes fresh vegetation, pools of water, soil, and mud. This allows them to get enough exercise, the lack of which can lead to severe foot and joint problems. In Manila Zoo, Mali has been suffering from chronic painful foot problems that have gone untreated for a very long time.

The years she has spent in such miserable conditions are almost as long as the entire lifetime of an elephant. She has suffered enough, and deserves to spend the rest of her days in a sanctuary that she deserves, where she can be provided with acres of space for roaming, exploring, grazing, swimming, and socializing (only if she so desires) similar to what these intelligent and sensitive animals do in the wild.

I am sure that the government of Manila, with their smart politicians, can come up with better ways to earn money. But it should not include the exploitation of animals such as Mali the elephant. It is time to set Mali free! – Regielene S. Gonzales, San Benissa Garden Villas, Novaliches, Quezon City

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