MANILA, Philippines - Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Saturday asked music icon Sir Paul McCartney to stop interfering in the controversy surrounding Mali, the lone elephant at the city zoo.
In a telephone interview with The STAR, Estrada said McCartney has no personality in the issue on whether Manila Zoo has to free Mali from its care.
“Foreigners will not be entertained here. He (McCartney) should not interfere with our local problems here. What is his personality here? We are not interfering with their local affairs,” Estrada said.
McCartney, in a letter to President Aquino circulated by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), McCartney urged the President to transfer Mali from the Manila Zoo to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
Estrada said McCartney might as well change his citizenship from British to Filipino if he wants to interfere with purely Filipino affairs.
“That is sending a wrong signal and it is giving us a bad image. If we will allow his suggestion to push through, it is like admitting that we cannot even take care of one elephant. We (Filipinos) are competent and capable to take care of Mali,” he said.
Estrada said the owner of the Ocean Park Hotel – whom he identified only as a Singaporean national, “Mr. Lim” – has agreed to invest P500 million for the total rehabilitation of the Manila Zoo.
“It will take one year and a half to finish the total rehabilitation of the Manila Zoo. It will be located in the same place, which is five hectares. It will be up to the city council’s decision to set the start of Manila Zoo’s total rehabilitation,” he said.
McCartney described a video footage of Mali as “heartbreaking” and cited the elephant’s “debilitating foot problems and the unimaginable loneliness of a herd animal kept alone.”
“Action must be taken for this ailing elephant, and you hold the key,” McCartney told Aquino in the letter. “With the stroke of a pen, you can bring an end to her suffering, and I urge you, with all my heart, to direct that Mali be given that joy now.”