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Nation

Mali died of congestive heart failure – Zoo

Evelyn Macairan, Mark Ernest Villeza - The Philippine Star
Mali died of congestive heart failure � Zoo
Visitors walk past a statue of Mali, the country’s lone elephant, at the Manila Zoo yesterday.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Mali, the Philippines’ lone elephant, died of congestive heart failure, Manila Zoo’s resident veterinarian said yesterday.

In a press conference, Heinrich Patrick Peña-Domingo said that based on necropsy findings, Mali had a cancerous growth on her pancreas, nodules around the liver, slightly inflamed kidneys and aorta blockage.

It was a challenging task for Mali’s heart to pump blood with those conditions, he said.

“There was thick fat that blocked her aorta, which may be the cause of her death. Her heart had difficulty pumping enough blood to the body due to the number of organs affected,” Domingo said in Filipino.

Domingo said Mali displayed signs of irritability on Friday, eventually losing her appetite.

Despite the zookeepers’ efforts, Mali’s health deteriorated rapidly, leading to her death on Tuesday afternoon, according to the veterinarian.

Setting record straight

In yesterday’s press conference, Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan said Mali was about 43 years old at the time of her death.

“She was given to the city of Manila in 1981 by the Sri Lankan government, contrary to other reports that she was given to us in 1977. That was a different elephant, Shiba. She died in 1990, when she was 26 or 27 years old. Mali was the only elephant left in the Philippines,” Pangan said.

Responding to questions about Mali being a gift for former first lady Imelda Marcos, Pangan clarified that Mali was entrusted to the city government by former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., as evidenced by a letter dated May 14, 1981 from then mayor Ramon Bagatsing.

The intention was to seek a mate for Mali, preferably a male Indian elephant.

The city government plans to preserve Mali’s skeleton through taxidermy and intends to display it in the zoo’s museum.

“We are in talks with experts on how to preserve Mali’s bones if we can do taxidermy. You know that Mali is our prized possession, she is one of our star attractions here at the Manila Zoo,” Pangan said.

The mayor confirmed that there are plans to replace Mali. The Sri Lankan government vowed to provide another elephant during its representatives’ last visit to the zoo, she said.

“They committed that they would give again so now, we will inform them. We will communicate with them that Mali is gone so that their offer to us would push through,” Pangan said.

Meanwhile, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said all those who denied Mali veterinary care and blocked her transfer to a sanctuary should be held accountable for her death.

PETA said zoo and city officials ignored Mali’s “clearly painful foot problems, the leading cause of death in captive elephants.”

The group said Manila Zoo and the city government “sentenced Mali to decades of solitary confinement.”

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