Experts Worldwide Agree: Transfer Mali the Elephant to a Sanctuary, Now!
July 21, 2012 by Blog Feature
Manila Zoo’s Elephant Continues to Suffer Physically, Mentally in Solitary Confinement
Manila — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia has been calling for the transfer of Mali, the Manila Zoo’s 38-year-old lone and ailing elephant, to a reputable sanctuary, where she can live out her remaining years in good health and dignity as well as in the crucial company of other elephants. Now, PETA’s call is being amplified by internationally recognized elephant experts. In addition to her depressed mental state, Mali is suffering from severe foot disorders—the leading cause of premature death in captive elephants. Mali is cruelly 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.
Here is what the experts are saying:
· Kelly and Richard Probst, founders of Elephant Advocacy (U.S.): “It is an elephant’s destiny and deepest joy to wander great distances with their family and herd members by their side. Elephants have a complex social system that includes continuous communion throughout the day with family members and herds from distant regions. Elephant social structure and familial bonds are similar, if not deeper, than that of human beings …. For the Manila Zoo to ignore this call to action reflects their self-interest and has nothing to do with Mali’s welfare or elephant conservation and education.”
· Dr. Marion E. Garaï, Ph.D., chairperson, Space for Elephants Foundation (South Africa); chairperson, Elephant Specialist Advisory Group (South Africa); consultant, the European Elephant Group: “[Mali's] current facility is one of the worst I have seen. The concrete she is forced to walk on inside and outside is damaging to her feet and bones …. In addition, the concrete is surely humid most of the time, given the climate in the Philippines. Humidity will cause arthritis and can cause foot disease and other problems …. There is nothing more important to a female elephant than her family and being among other elephants. It is totally unacceptable and terrible that Mali has been in isolation for 33 years of her life.”
· Petra ten Velde, consultant, Sacred Earth Encounters (South Africa): “Elephant herds are matriarchal, which means that they are guided by the oldest females in the herd. Normally, the oldest female with the most life experience will be in charge of making sure her herd is safe and can guide her herd to the best water holes and feeding grounds …. To no degree is the zoo where Mali is currently being kept in relaying any educational information to the general public on elephants. More than anything, it is exposing a disgraceful situation which needs urgent correction.”
· Soraida Salwala, founder and secretary general, Friends of the Asian Elephant (Thailand): “Elephants need to be with their own kind, be it one or two other females, because they are social animals. They live in herds in the wild. Although some have been in captivity, but they need their friends around.”
· Dr. Angela Stoeger-Horwath, Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna (Austria): “Female elephants are highly intelligent and are known to have a very complex social network. Born into a family, females stay with this family for the rest of their lives, taking care of each other and keeping vocal contact even when separated for a short period of time during feeding. Female elephants, besides primates, are the most social creatures that I have ever experienced. Keeping such a social animal isolated from conspecifics, leads to abnormal behaviour and a poor general state of health.”
· Dr. Vicki Fishlock, research associate, Amboseli Trust for Elephants (Kenya): “Even more crucially than physical space, Mali’s residence at the Manila Zoo cannot offer appropriate social conditions for a female elephant. It is aberrant for elephants to be kept in solitary conditions: In the wild, female elephants live in families, with companionships that may persist for 60 years or more. Female elephants have been shown to recognise at least 100 other female companions … and will daily reinforce their social bonds through intense greeting ceremonies, as well as repeated tactile contacts (rubbing against one another, sleeping while leaning on each other, and touching each other with trunks and tails). Research in the wild has shown that disturbed elephant populations who have suffered family structure breakdown due to poaching exhibit chronic increases in stress hormone levels …. I would argue that the removal of companions and lack of emotional support have placed Mali under similar stress levels, and this severely compromises both her psychological wellbeing and her physical condition.”
· Philip K. Ensley, D.V.M., diplomat, American College of Zoological Medicine (U.S.): “I understand completely all the issues that must be taken into account when it comes to arriving at a decision to provide appropriate care for the lone Asian elephant Mali …. I know that after carefully weighing all the options you will agree that relocating Mali [is] the appropriate thing to do for her well-being.”
Just last month, Dr. Henry Richardson, a world-renowned elephant veterinarian, conducted a visual examination of Mali and concluded that she is suffering from potentially fatal foot problems. Also in June, the Most Reverend José S. Palma, archbishop of Cebu and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, expressed strong support for transferring Mali.
The complete testimony of the elephant experts cited above is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETAAsiaPacific.com.
Photo Credit: Images Philippines