MANILA, Philippines – An elderly elephant from the Manila Zoo is featured in this year’s Christmas ad of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Mali, who is currently the focus of a campaign alleging animal cruelty, is pictured with a Santa hat next to the caption “All I Want for Christmas Is My Freedom” in PETA’s newest poster.
According to PETA, Mali should be allowed to move freely in a sanctuary, where she can be in the company of other elephants.
“Christmas is a time of giving, but the only thing stopping Mali from a potentially life-saving transfer to a sanctuary is the greed of zoo and city officials,” PETA Asia’s Rochelle Regodon said in a statement, noting that a sanctuary in Thailand has already agreed to accept the Philippine elephant, with the animal rights group willing to shoulder 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,” Regodon added.
PETA earlier 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.
A lawmaker has sought a congressional probe on the current conditions of zoos in the country following the campaign to release Mali. Last month, Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar urged the House Committee on Natural Resources and Ecology to review the standards and guidelines in operating zoos.
Malacañang assured early this year that it has instructed government agencies to look into Mali’s condition.
Last June, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines added its voice to the growing list of concerned individuals and groups urging the transfer of the elderly elephant to a sanctuary in Thailand.