“I have great regard for governments that intervene on behalf of animals, just as yours did with the May 2012 directive ordering that Mali be evaluated and considered for transfer. That said, time is passing, and it has been more than a year since that directive was issued—yet Mali seems no closer to enjoying her well-deserved retirement at an approved sanctuary,” McCartney writes. “I have heard from my friends at PETA that various government authorities are continuing to deny that Mali’s welfare should be within their jurisdiction.”
McCartney adds, “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.”
Other notables are also making the case for Mali’s transfer.
Dr. Blair Csuti, senior editor of the book The Elephant’s Foot: Prevention and Care of Foot Conditions in Captive Asian and African Elephants, recently spoke out for Mali. “Transfer to a natural-habitat sanctuary is in the best interest of Mali and is the wisest and most [humane] action that the Manila Zoo can take on behalf of Mali,” he says. “[It] can set an example for other institutions attempting to maintain captive elephants with insufficient resources.” Of Mali’s current environment, Csuti says that “these conditions are clearly sub-optimal for elephants and can lead to serious infections, particularly of the foot bones and connective tissue, a leading cause of mortality in captive elephants.”
Lisa Kane, founder of the Coalition for Captive Elephant Welfare and co-author of The Elephant in the Room: Science and Welfare of Elephants in Captivity, stated, “I believe Mali’s retirement is a desirable outcome for her for two principle reasons: (1) elephants need other elephants; and (2) elephants need space. Mali’s present living conditions deny her both. Animal behavior studies clearly demonstrate that the absence of an animal’s ability to engage in natural behaviors (here, socializing with fellow elephants and moving through huge natural spaces) are strongly linked to distress and suffering, particularly wildlife.”
Studies have revealed that keeping a solitary female elephant is extremely detrimental to her mental health and well-being. In their natural habitats, female elephants spend their entire lives with their herds—every daily activity, from foraging for food to playing and bathing in rivers, is carried out in the presence of their extended family group. Logistically, the zoo can never offer enough space for elephants, and Mali’s veterinary care has been virtually ignored for more than 36 years, resulting in foot problems, which veterinarians have said are causing her constant pain.
Other internationally recognized experts calling for Mali’s immediate transfer include world-renowned veterinarian Dr. Henry Melvyn Richardson, legendary anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall, and Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who raised and rehabilitated orphaned elephants in Kenya and reintroduced them into the wild.
McCartney’s letter to President Aquino is available upon request. For more information, please visit FreeMali.com. You can also follow PETA’s campaign for Mali at Facebook.com/FreeMali and Twitter.com/PETAAsia.