For the past 36 years of Mali’s life, she has been stuck in a concrete cage in Manila Zoo. Many have said she is not cared for; that she is unhappy. Others still have pointed out the fact that she is having a worsening foot problem. Those who have not talked about Mali herself have talked about the worsening (or worse already) condition of the Manila Zoo, pointing out the trash, the zookeepers, the cages and confinements that are damaging to her health.
The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have filed petitions against Manila Zoo, saying that it would be better to transfer Mali to Thailand, where she can continue living her considerably long age (she’s 39 years old) among other elephants, and in the wild.
This movement by PETA has moved international celebrities such as British pop star Morrissey and Paul McCartney, who have been sending letters and voicing out their wanting to send Mali to Thailand.
But those who want Mali to stay in the Philippines have also brought up interesting points. For one, according to some, it would be a blow to the Philippines. Former Philippine President and Mayor of Manila, Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada, said that it would be a ‘humiliation’ for the Philippines to send Mali to Thailand. “It would mean that we are not capable of taking care of one animal,” Erap stated (via GMA News).
James Albert Dichavez, the newly appointed Manila Parks and Recreation Bureau Director, has also stated that due to Mali’s old age, it would be hard for her to adjust to the new environment. Despite the fact that the environment she is living in currently is sadly not enough to properly take care of her, she is already used to other things, like the climate, the surroundings, and the people who feed her regularly. There is also the issue that Mali might not even survive the plane trip to Thailand.
So what really is the best solution to all of this?
Although I am not a member or officer of PETA, and I am not an expert on the said subject, I would like to state my opinion on the matter: Based on what I have read, I think that Mali should still stay in the Philippines, not because Erap said that it would be humiliating to send Mali to Thailand, but because of the health issues that Mali might possibly face. Yes, I say she stays, but with special considerations and a possible solution, as well.
Last Thursday, the news came out that Subic Bay was offering to take care of the only elephant that is in the Philippines. Specifically, they (Subic Bay) are offering to transfer Mali to their Ilanan Forest, which is an open and natural area. Compared to the Manila Zoo, it’s much cleaner, and a better solution than to keep her huddled up in a cage where she suffers.
It is yet to be known if the Manila Zoo will accept Subic Bay’s offer, but I hope they do accept the offer.
Yes, I admit that seeing Mali in the wild with other elephants would please me. I do, however, think that her health would be put at risk should she be sent to Thailand. How would she adapt? Would she have people following her in Thailand to make sure that she adapts? What about the trip going to Thailand? Wouldn’t that be a bit too much for a 39 year old elephant?
When all’s said and done, that’s too many questions left unanswered. Better safe than sorry.