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Manila City gov’t to ask Sri Lanka for new elephant after Mali’s death

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila City government will ask the Sri Lankan government for a new elephant following the death of Mali, the lone elephant in the city-owned zoo.

“The Sri Lankan government, the same entity that brought Mali to the country, during one of their visits, has committed to give [a new elephant],” Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna said in Filipino in a press briefing on Wednesday, November 29.

Lacuna said that the city will write a letter to Sri Lanka to inform them about Mali’s demise and request for a “replacement.”

Meanwhile, the city government plans to preserve the elephant’s remains through taxidermy, which will be displayed in a museum later on.

Mali was the Sri Lankan government’s gift to then-First Lady Imelda Marcos in 1977, and came under the care of the City of Manila in May 1981. Over the years, Mali became a part of the childhood memories of many Filipinos who visited the country’s capital zoo.

Animal rights groups, however, believed that Mali suffered from profound loneliness after living most of her entire adult life without companions of the same species, and demanded the elephant’s transfer to a sanctuary where she could roam freely and mingle with others of her kind.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals described Mali as one of the “world’s saddest elephants,” as she had no contact with other elephants.

The city also plans to obtain additional animals for the zoo, Manila Zoo Chief Veterinarian Heinrich Patrick Peña-Domingo said.

Based on the Manila Zoo website, the wildlife park has 550 specimens of exotic wildlife representing 13 species of mammals, 38 species of avian, and 21 species of reptiles.

The Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, the only public zoo in the City of Manila, first opened on July 25, 1959, during the tenure of Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson.

The zoo was closed down in 2019 after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources found out that it is one of Manila Bay’s major pollutants.

Under the leadership of then-Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, the zoo underwent extensive renovations and reopened to the public in December 2021. – with reports from Olive Pallasigue/

Olive Pallasigue is a