Manila — Pictured with a Santa hat next to the caption “All I Want for Christmas Is My Freedom,” Mali—the ailing and solitary elephant cruelly confined to the Manila Zoo—appears in a brand-new ad from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia.
PETA’s point? That Mali is suffering from painful foot ailments—the leading cause of death in captive elephants—and that if she isn’t transferred to a sanctuary soon, it’s a very real possibility that she will die young. Pleas from veterinarians, scientists, thousands of students, more than 50 animal welfare organizations, and political, religious, and business leaders to transfer Mali have been building for months.
“Christmas is a time of giving, but the only thing stopping Mali from a potentially lifesaving transfer to a sanctuary is the greed of zoo and city officials,” says PETA Asia’s Rochelle Regodon, who notes that a sanctuary in Thailand has already agreed to accept Mali and that PETA has agreed to pay all transport expenses. “The only thing that the Manila Zoo and the city can ensure about Mali by keeping her there is an early and painful death.”
In her current environment, Mali is denied socialization, stimulation, room to explore, and everything else that is natural and important to her. She endures intensive confinement, loneliness, boredom, and isolation in an area a tiny fraction of the size of her natural habitat.
“Conditions such as those that Mali has endured in Manila Zoo for 35 years, deprived of contact with [her] own kind, are guaranteed to ensure a wretched and unhappy life, and will lead to an early death,” writes David Hancocks, a former zoo director who has been involved in managing and planning zoos for more than four decades.
Internationally recognized elephant expert Dr. Henry Richardson recently issued a report on Mali after viewing videotape footage of her supplied by PETA. Richardson concluded that since his in-person observation of Mali in May, her condition has deteriorated. At the sanctuary, Mali would have sufficient room, the crucial company of other elephants, and constant access to the best veterinary care available.