Mali, resident elephant at Manila Zoo, dies

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Mali, resident elephant at Manila Zoo, dies
This Dec. 31, 2021 photo shows Manila Zoo employees and their family members interacting with "Mali" the elephant, brahminy kites, and butterflies during the zoo's soft opening after being closed since 2019.
AFP / Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines (Updated Nov. 29, 2023, 9:13 a.m.) — Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna on Tuesday announced the death of nearly 50-year-old Vishwa Ma’ali, popularly known as Mali, the elephant at the capital’s zoo.

“Sa atin pong kapwa Manileño at mga kababayang Filipino, ikinalulungkot ko pong ibalita sa inyo ang pagpanaw ng ating minamahal na si Vishwa Ma'ali na mas kilalang Mali,” the city chief executive said in a video message posted on Facebook.

(To all my fellow Manileño and Filipinos, I am saddened to report that our beloved Vishwa Ma’ali, more known as Mali, has passed away)

Lacuna said Mali passed away at around 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday. She was with Roland Marino, officer-in-charge of the Manila Public Recreations Bureau Roland Marino, Senior Veterinarian Dr. Heinrich Patrick "Chip" Pena-Domingo and the caretakers of Mali, Noel and Boy when she made the announcement.

The mayor said that the city government has yet to update the public about the cause of death of Mali as the elephant is undergoing necropsy to determine this.

“Bukas ay magkakaroon tayo ng presscon para ma-update namin kayo sa tunay na nangyari kay Mali,” she added.

(Tomorrow we will have a presscon to update you on what really happened to Mali)

According to reports, Mali was born in Sri Lanka in 1974. Mali has been the zoo’s resident elephant since 1977.

Manila Public Information Office, however, said that Mali was given to the care of city of Manila in May 1981.

"Documents given states that she was 11 months old at that time," Manila PIO said in a Viber message.

In 2021, The STAR reported that the elephant was given a bigger enclosure in the renovated Manila Zoo which reopened in December that year.

Mali has been staying at the zoo despite several calls for its transfer to the wildlife sanctuary in Thailand.

Lawmakers and animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have called for the elephant’s transfer to Thailand. PETA also described Mali as the  “world’s saddest elephant,” according to The STAR’s report.

Former Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, however, declined the request to transfer, saying that it would be risky for Mali who has stayed in the zoo all her life.

“It might not be ideal to bring her back to the wild because she grew up in that environment. Maybe it’s more harmful to transport her. We will give the best services for her,” Moreno was quoted as saying.

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