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‘World’s Saddest Elephant’ Dies at Philippine Zoo

Mali, World’s Saddest Elephant Dies at Philippine Zoo
Mali, the world’s saddest elephant, died at the age of 43. Credit: Jun Acullador / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

An female elephant named Mali, who spent almost all her life alone in a zoo in the Philippines has died. Activists such as PETA called her the “world’s saddest elephant.”

Mali, short for Vishwa Ma’ali, was around forty-three years old when she died, although her exact age is uncertain. Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna shared the sad news during a press conference on Tuesday at 3:45 pm.

Her passing brings an end to various worldwide efforts that were begun to move her to a different place due to worries about her lonely life and the care she received at the zoo.

In 2012, Sir Paul McCartney, a notable figure, expressed worry for Mali and wrote to the president of the Philippines, urging her release and relocation to another country. However, authorities cautioned against this.

“Mali was our prized possession and was the star attraction here at the Manila Zoo,” Manila’s Mayor told reporters. “It saddens me because she was part of our lives.”

Mali was in constant pain because of pancreatic cancer

Dr. Heinrich Patrick Peña-Domingo, the chief vet at the zoo, observed Mali frequently rubbing her trunk against a wall, indicating she was in pain.

On Tuesday, Mali’s condition worsened. She lay on her side, breathing heavily. Despite efforts by zoo vets who administered antihistamines and vitamins, she passed away in the afternoon. An autopsy conducted by the chief vet revealed that Mali had suffered from pancreatic cancer.

In 1988, Sri Lanka gifted Mali to the Philippines as a present for Imelda Marcos, the First Lady at the time. She was just eleven months old when she arrived in Manila.

During her initial days, Mali had a companion, Shiva, who had been at the zoo since 1977 but passed away in 1990.

However, due to financial challenges at Manila Zoo, Mali lived on her own since then. The zoo couldn’t manage to bring in another elephant to keep her company, according to The Independent.

Animal rights activists raised voices for the mistreatment of Mali, the world’s saddest elephant

Animal rights activists strongly advocated for the transfer of Mali to a different country, criticizing Manila Zoo authorities for what they claimed was mistreatment.

PETA initiated a campaign in 2005 to relocate Mali, gaining support from prominent figures such as Nobel laureate JM Coetzee, singer Morrissey, and animal welfare advocate Jane Goodall.

PETA accused the zoo and the Philippine government of neglecting Mali’s “painful foot problems” and subjecting her to “solitary confinement” for many decades, as reported by The Independent.

The Philippine government and zoo authorities defended their stance against the criticism, asserting that it was in Mali’s best interest to remain at the zoo. They argued that she wouldn’t have known how to survive in the wild.

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