MANILA, Philippines – Two more lawmakers have supported the call to release an elderly elephant from the Manila Zoo so it can be transferred to a sanctuary in Thailand.
Gabriela party-list Reps. Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus are urging the City of Manila, the Bureau of Animal Industry and the Protected Area and Wildlife Bureau to facilitate the immediate transfer of Mali to Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES).
In a statement, the lawmakers said Mali’s solitary confinement has placed the elephant under stress, which lowered her reproductive function and increased her muscle breakdown.
“Mali’s confinement in a concrete enclosure with very limited space restricts its movement, thus chronic pressure sores develop, and its foot infections and arthritis continues to worsen, as concrete surfaces do not allow a variety of surfaces for her to roam in, causing infections which lead to death among elephants,” Ilagan said.
“All of these severely compromise the psychological and physical conditions of the elephant,” de Jesus added.
Last year, Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar asked the House Committee on Natural Resources and Ecology to review the standards and guidelines in operating zoos following the campaign to release Mali.
Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao party-list rep. Maximo Rodriguez recently urged government agencies to facilitate the elderly elephant’s transfer to BLES.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has also added its voice to the growing list of concerned individuals and groups calling for Mali’s release.
Mali was featured in the 2012 Christmas ad of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals which had the caption “All I Want for Christmas Is My Freedom.”
PETA noted that Mali has been suffering from foot ailments, which is said to be the leading cause of death in captive elephants. The group also said she is enduring loneliness, boredom and isolation in the Manila Zoo.
Malacañang earlier said that it has instructed government agencies to look into Mali’s condition.