Thai expert’s findings on Mali ‘inaccurate’
A veterinarian for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has disputed the findings of an elephant expert from Thailand who said that Mali, the 38-year-old elephant in Manila Zoo, looked healthy and well-cared for.
“Properly cared for elephants of the same age as Mali do not have cracked foot pads and nails or overgrown cuticles,” Peta Asia’s veterinary affairs consultant Dr. Manilal Valliyate said in his July 5 letter addressed to the director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB).
Valliyate noted that Mali’s “favoring” behavior—repeatedly shifting her weight from one leg to the other and leaning on the walls of her enclosure—indicated a problem and constant pain in the limbs and joints.
The animal rights group has been calling for Mali’s transfer to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
Valliyate claimed that Peta had received calls from veterinarians worldwide who were outraged by the “inaccurate, ambiguous and superficial statements that Dr. Nikorn Thongtip made to the media.”
“Dr. Thongtip confuses Mali’s mental suffering—stemming from her loneliness and boredom—with stress. To suggest performing a hormone or hydrocortisone test shows a lack of understanding regarding what the problem is,” Valliyate said.
“Numerous scientific studies have revealed that the opportunity to socialize is absolutely integral to the well-being of female elephants,” Valliyate said.
According to Thongtip, a Thai elephant expert who came to Manila to examine Mali upon PAWB’s invitation, the elephant seemed to be in the pink of health although she needed to lose weight.
He added, however, that it was too early to tell if the most famous resident of the Manila Zoo should remain where she was or move to the elephant sanctuary.
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