Mali, the female Sri-Lankan-born elephant, is causing much ado at the nation’s capital amidst call from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and other protection organizations from around the globe—such as Earth Island Institute, Animals Asia, the Humane Society International, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the International Veterinary Society, and the European Elephant Group, that she be taken out from Manila’s rundown zoo and transferred to a sanctuary in Thailand.
The main reason given by PETA is that the company of other elephants is extremely important to the well-being of an elephant.
“For elephants, the herd is everything. Females stay with their families for their entire lives, and males stay until their pre- or early teens. These complex and social animals need other elephants in order to live a fulfilled and happy life,” said PETA.
“Housing an elephant alone is unanimously condemned by experts worldwide, and in fact, no zoo association approves of keeping a female elephant alone. Sanctuaries routinely introduce elephants—many of whom have spent decades alone—to their herds with great success,” it added.
Apparently, Mali, who is said to be the star attraction at the 54-year-old zoo, is not only old and sickly, but worst still she is confined in a small, concrete enclosure, which can hardly be described as a natural habitat for an elephant. Therefore, Mali in her current environment is denied of everything that is natural and important to her.
“Keeping a single female elephant in limited space in inadequate captive conditions is also severely damaging to the animal’s mental health,” said WSPA. “For such social animals to be deprived of social interaction with other elephants clearly causes the animal acute suffering.”
It is even doubtful if the Manila zoo has veterinarians adequately trained to care for elephants.
Yet despite this funereal situation of Mali, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada is insisting that the animal stays.
“Mali is just one elephant and sending her to Thailand would be embarrassing. It means we are not capable of taking care of one animal,” Estrada said.
What a moronic pronouncement!
How could you make Mali feel better if she continues to be alone? Continued cruelty will just hasten her demise.
Why can’t we just admit that we are treating Mali wrongly, that feeding her in a limited space will never, ever, take the place of companionship and staying in sanctuary where she could roam and forage and still be under the supervision of elephant experts?
Why do we have to insist on something that we are incapable of doing and providing for the well-being of this kind and socially-oriented animals?
This reminds me of Lolong, the world’s longest crocodile ever caught and placed in captivity. The country was proud to own the reptile having been recognized by the Guinness book of records.
But, the same foolish pride that Mayor Estrada has about Mali now is what the local officials of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur had about Lolong in 2011, even if they knew that they were just endangering the life of the crocodile by not providing it the right environment for it to live longer.
I blogged about Lolong (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/freedom-or-captivity-for-world%E2%80%99s-largest-croc/) and offered my ten cents worth of suggestions, but they thought that earning money from tourists would lengthen the life of the poor reptile and having it alive was more important than having it preserved in case it can’t be put back in its natural habitat. My intention simply was to have it displayed inside a museum for posterity, while it was at the height of its largeness. It had caused havoc enough and cost lives, for all we know, so who would complain if it was killed?
Now, the latest I heard about Lolong is that they will exhume the remains and assemble it, after which they are going to display it the town’s eco-park. Surely, it won’t be the same as it was in life – as it appeared.
Cruelty in captivity brought about by false sense of pride killed Lolong.
Mali will meet the same fate for the same reasons, sooner than later, unless provided a sanctuary.