Nine female commercial models and entertainers on Tuesday stripped down for the cameras to demonstrate what they called “the naked truth” about the condition of Mali, Manila Zoo’s lone elephant.
With only placards bearing the message “Naked Truth: Mali the Elephant Is Suffering” for cover, the women showed some skin to help the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) in its latest ad campaign calling for Mali’s transfer to the Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Northern Thailand.
“The ad is just a provocative and funny way to draw attention to a very serious message,” Peta senior campaign manager Ashley Fruno told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, noting that many people were still unaware of the campaign.
Peta believes that the 38-year-old Mali, a female elephant brought to the Philippines from Sri Lanka as a gift to then First Lady Imelda Marcos in 1977, had long been suffering in isolation and must be in the company of other elephants in a sanctuary.
The group had enlisted a number of high-profile endorsers for their advocacy, including British singer Morrissey and Nobel laureate JM Coetzee.
“Elephants are extremely social animals. Every logical organization in the world recognizes that elephants should not be kept alone. Mali needs other elephants to be happy. That’s the bottomline,” Fruno said.
If moved to a sanctuary, Mali can do whatever she wants, wake up anytime she wants and play with other elephants while having a veterinarian constantly watching her, Fruno said.
Last week, the proposed transfer of the aging elephant drew support from some lawmakers as the House committee on natural resources approved a resolution in favor of the relocation.
The resolution filed by Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan came amid protests from Manila representatives, zoo officials and Mali’s caretakers who warned that it would not be safe for the animal to travel overseas at her age.
They also warned that Mali would be “helpless in the wild” and argued that her being alone in the zoo does not necessarily mean she’s suffering.
Also opposed to the transfer is veteran advertising photographer John Chua, who has been Mali’s volunteer caretaker for more than a decade.
President Aquino late last year directed the Department of Agriculture to determine if Mali is fit for such a trip.