'Sanctuary different from the wild': PETA urges Isko to reconsider keeping Mali in new Manila Zoo

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 30 2021 02:35 PM

MANILA - The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on Wednesday urged Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso to reconsider his earlier statement that the Philippines' lone elephant, Mali, may have a better chance of surviving in Manila Zoo instead of being released from captivity.

Earlier this week, the Manila Mayor - who was preparing for the reopening of Asia's oldest zoo - said that the nearly 50-year-old elephant may have a hard time adapting to new environments due to her old age.

"In nature, female elephants stay in close-knit, extended groups for their entire lives. These complex social animals need to be with others of their kind in order to lead happy, fulfilled lives," Rochelle Regodon, PETA's Policy Manager, said in a letter dated December 29, 2020.

"Many elephants who are transferred to sanctuaries have histories similar to Mali’s, but sanctuary caregivers find that these intelligent animals are highly adaptable and welcome new situations, especially those that greatly improve their welfare, as a sanctuary environment would for Mali," she said.

"To suggest that we shouldn’t give her a chance at being healthy and happy in the company of other elephants shows a lack of understanding of the nature of elephants and does her a disservice," she said.

Mali needs to be taken to a sanctuary as the Manila Zoo does not have veterinarians to check on the animal's "debilitating foot problems, the leading cause of death in captive elephants," she said.

Regodon underscored that Mali would not have to fend for herself in an elephant sanctuary in Thailand "that has agreed to take her."

"Mali is guaranteed hands-on care 24 hours a day there and would never go hungry," she said.

"This sanctuary has rehabilitated many captive elephants, and like us, it’s confident that Mali would adjust to her new life quickly and easily, since female elephants form very strong bonds with other females," she said.

PETA is also willing to shoulder all costs to transport Mali to Thailand, Regodon said in her letter, noting that sedatives are not needed in the process.

"The key to ensuring a low-stress transport for Mali is proper training well in advance of the move, not the use of sedatives," she said.
"PETA stands ready to make all the necessary logistic and financial arrangements," she said.

"We guarantee that the transfer would not cost the city or your constituents a cent," she said.

The organization has also offered to "arrange a trip" for the Manila mayor "trip at no expense to the city" for him to be ablt "to visit the sanctuary to see firsthand the wonderful life that it can offer Mali."
Over the years, animal rights group have been calling for the release of animals from zoos, saying these should not live in captivity.

Domagoso has yet to say if he has responded to PETA's request.