PETA Asia-Pacific has just issued a report on the plight of Mali—a lone Asian elephant who lives in a cramped enclosure at the Manila Zoo. Born in Sri Lanka in 1974, Mali was only 3 years old when she was ripped from her home and family and shipped to the zoo.
The report details Mali's miserable and lonely life in captivity. In the wild, elephants like Mali live and travel in close-knit family herds and roam up to 80 kilometers a day—activity that is essential to their well-being. "Mali would browse and graze, pluck fruit and leaves from trees, take mud baths, and spend hours a day swimming and playing in the water," the report says.
Female elephants spend virtually all their time in the company of other elephants, socializing, nurturing, and sharing experiences. The report explains, "At the Manila Zoo, Mali spends her days alone in a barren enclosure, which provides her with no opportunity to engage in any of the activities that elephants need for their physical, mental, and emotional health." This has led Mali to a state of profound depression.
Denied the company of other elephants, mental stimulation, and room to explore, Mali endures intense confinement, loneliness, and boredom. She is exhibiting abnormal and repetitive behaviors called "zoochosis." The report explains, "Zoo visitor see Mali pacing incessantly or merely standing in one spot with her trunk to the ground. She's been seen walking to the edge of her enclosure and reaching out her foot in the hope of going farther. According to people who witnessed one such incident, when Mali felt empty space, she stepped back and repeated the same behavior. Finally realizing that there was nowhere to go, a dejected Mali walked aimlessly around her enclosure, picking debris off the ground."
Mali needs to be retired without delay. Sanctuaries can offer elephants vast spaces to roam, ponds to bathe in, fresh vegetation, foraging opportunities, and the company of many other elephants.
Click here to view PETA Asia-Pacific's full report.