Elephant Mali may have better chance of surviving in Manila Zoo: Isko

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 27 2021 06:59 PM | Updated as of Dec 27 2021 07:00 PM

MANILA - Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso on Monday said the Philippines' lone elephant, Mali, may have a better chance of surviving in captivity than being released into the wild.

The nearly 50-year-old elephant has been used to living in an enclosure where she is cared for by zookeepers and veterinarians, Domagoso told reporters on the sidelines of his weekly flag ceremony.

"Mahirap na siyang i-travel," he said.

(It's hard for her to travel.)

"Hindi na rin siya magandang ibalik sa wild because [she] grew up in that environment. Baka it's more harmful to [her], baka lang," he said.

(It's not good to bring her back into the wild because she grew up in that environment. It might be more harmful for her.)

Domagoso cited Mali's difficulty moving and adapting into a her new and bigger enclosure in Manila Zoo.

While Mali's new how is bigger, cleaner and even has a pond, the elephant, so far, still prefers her old pen, the mayor said.

"Gusto sana namin i-droga (We were considering tranquilizing her), but still the veterinarian is thinking about it," he said.

"Baka kasi kapag ginamot, drinoga yung elepante, baka hindi magising kasi may edad na din yung elepante," he said.

(If we tranquilize her, if we use drugs on the elephant, she might not wake up because she is quite old already.)

Mali was first brought to the Manila Zoo - Southeast Asia's oldest menagerie - when she was just 3 years old.

The Sri Lankan government sent Mali to the Philippines - which then had the only zoo in the region - in the 1970s after she was found orphaned in the wild.

Several animal rights group has been calling for her release from the zoo, saying wild animals should not live in captivity.

Elephants need about 6 months to adapt into a new environment, Alipio Morabe Jr., director of Manila's Public Recreation Bureau, told ABS-CBN News in an earlier interview.

So far, it's been 2 months since Mali's new enclosure was completed, but she has yet to set foot in it, he said.

The new Manila Zoo has 4 in-house veterinarians, he said.

With Manila Zoo's scheduled reopening early next year, Domagoso said Mali would be cared for.

"We'll give the best services for the elephant," the mayor said.

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