Imelda wants elephant out of Manila Zoo
MANILA, Philippines -- Former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who once welcomed the elephant Mali into the country, now wants the 38-year-old animal transferred to a sanctuary in Thailand.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement that the incumbent Ilocos Sur Rep. sent a letter to President Benigno Aquino III asking for the transfer of Mali to a place where “she can roam freely, socialize with other elephants, and live in her natural habitat.”
She said Mali was given to the Philippines by Sri Lanka in 1977 as a “very precious symbol of friendship.”
"If this transfer would protect the best interests of Mali, I post no objection on this and I would like to express my full support to this initiative. Though Mali would be greatly missed, I will be happy to see her embark on a journey towards a better life," Marcos was quoted as saying.
Former zoo director David Hancocks noted that the conditions the animal endured at the Manila Zoo for 35 years, "deprived of contact with that of [her] own kind, are guaranteed to ensure a wretched and unhappy life, and will lead to an early death.”
Last year, PETA invited Dr. Henry Melvyn Richardson to the Philippines to check into the situation of the elephant.
In his report, Richardson said Mali is suffering from a potentially fatal foot problem and profound loneliness.
“The lack of a preventative foot-care program is putting Mali in jeopardy of severe foot disease with accompanying pain and suffering. Under the current management, Mali’s health remains at risk, until she is trained using ‘protected contact’ methods to allow proper care of her feet,” he said in his four-page report.
He also noted that Mali was slightly overweight, due to lack of space for exercise.
Marcos joins a long list of prominent people, including Brigitte Bardot, Dr. Jane Goodall, singer activist Morrissey and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, who have supported PETA in calling for Mali's retirement.