Free Asian Elephant in Solitary Confinement for 35 Years

Target: Manila Zoo officials

Goal: To request the relocation of Mali, an Asian elephant that has been forced to live in a substandard enclosure alone for the past 35 years.

Vishwamali (Mali for short), an Asian elephant, has been living by herself in a rundown pen at the Manila Zoo in the Philippines for over 35 years now. She was brought to the zoo in 1974, when she was only 3 years old. Her mother was killed by poachers. Asian elephants in the wild can live for up to 60 years. It’s not uncommon for them to live even longer, up to 80 years, in captivity. Mali has spent what would be around half of her natural lifespan, over 92% of her life, living inside a substandard enclosure. During this time, Mali has had no contact with other members of her species, despite the fact that Asian elephants are naturally social animals.

Officials at the Manila Zoo claim that Mali is used to her cage, and that due to her extended captivity she would likely not survive being released into the wild. Most animal activists, however, are not calling for Mali to be released into the wild but rather that she be allowed to live out the rest of her live in a sanctuary where she will receive more space and the opportunity to interact with other elephants. British rock icon Morrissey, ex-singer of the group The Smiths, is currently leading the protest to have Mali retired from the zoo and moved to a US sanctuary for aging elephants.

Donald Manalastas, Manila Zoo chief veterinarian, has stated that not only is Mali fit, but her enclosure and diet have improved. However, many feel that that is not enough. Female and young Asian elephants in the wild live in family groups, or herds. While male elephants often times split from their herds to live the lives of bachelors, females live their entire lives as part of a herd. Mali, for 35 years now, has been denied the type of social interactions that a female of her species craves. Her enclosure is barren and lonely, with only two small pools to keep her entertained and protect her from the heat.

An animal sanctuary in Thailand, home to 14 other elephants and much larger than the Manila Zoo, has also expressed interest in caring for Mali. However, zoo officials reportedly stated that Mali is one of their most popular attractions, and local schoolchildren should not be deprived of the opportunity of seeing a live elephant. It apparently doesn’t make a difference to them that the elephant in question is depressed and commonly spends her time standing around listlessly.

Please ask Manila Zoo officials to reconsider rehoming Mali the elephant, or in the very least to consider improving her enclosure and introducing her to another elephant. 35 years in solitary confinement is a sentence that not even our most violent murderers are forced to bear. Yet Mali, an innocent animal, has been forced to endure that sentence. Mali has had a rough life since the death of her mother and herd mates by the hands of poachers. She deserves to live out the remainder of her life in comfort, and in the company of others of her kind.


Dear Manila Zoo officials,

Vishwamali (Mali) the Asian elephant has been in your zoo’s care for 35 years. During that time she has been kept alone inside of a substandard enclosure. It’s understandable that after 35 years of caring for her, many would be sad to see her go. However, at this time it’s important to consider would would be in the best interest of Mali.

Female Asian elephants are social animals, living in family herds for their entire lives in the wild. Mali has been denied the company of her own species for far too long now. Human caretakers, although they may love her, do not take the place of other elephants.

Please consider rehoming Mali to a sanctuary where she will receive more space and the opportunity to interact with others of her species. If you are unwilling to do that, then at least consider improving her enclosure and introducing her to another elephant. Zoo officials have been reported to state that rehoming Mali would deny children the opportunity to see a live elephant. But please think of what you are teaching Philippines children by putting an animal on display in such a dismal environment. Show the world that you do indeed care about the animals under your care and find a way to improve the living situation of Mali. Living in solitary confinement for 35 years is a sentence that most countries would not give to even their most violent criminals. Mali is an innocent animal. She deserves to live out the remainder of her life in comfort and in the company of others of her kind. Thank you.


[Your Name Here]

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  1. Why is there so little respect for the rights and feelings of animals??


  3. samantha raftery says:

    what heinous crime did this poor soul do to be incarcerated for life in solitary confinement? I am so ashamed to be a member of the species human. mankind – the quintessential oxymoron, if ever there was…

  4. janice tabler says:

    People who do this kind of treacherous thing to any animal or mammal deserves the same punishment 1000 times over…..I’d love for the guilty parties to die a very slow and painful torturous death…..

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