Manila Zoo chief vet: Elephant Mali may have died of heart failure
MABALACAT, Pampanga — The death of the Philippines’ only elephant may have been due to heart failure, Manila Zoo’s chief veterinarian said Wednesday.
According to Dr. Heinrich Patrick Peña-Domingo, their findings were based on the result of the necropsy conducted on Vishwamali, who was known to locals as Mali.
“We saw that the aorta has thick fat blocking it. That could be the cause of his death: congestive heart failure,” Peña-Domingo said in a mix of Filipino and English during a press briefing at Manila Zoo.
The veterinarian also said that Mali had cancer and was suffering from damage to her kidneys, liver, and pancreas.
“Sa dami po ng organ na affected, sa dami ng tumors, siyempre po magkakaroon ng pressure sa katawan. Ngayon dadating po ang time na masisikipan ang puso to the time na hindi na kayang i-pump ng puso ang enough blood to sustain ang kanyang buhay,” he said.
(With the number of organs affected, with the number of tumors, of course there will be pressure on the body. Now the time will come when the heart will be constricted until the heart will no longer be able to pump enough blood to sustain her life.)
“Kapag puso po ang nahirapan, kasunod na po ang lahat (When the heart struggles, everything else follows),” he added.
Peña-Domingo also said that Mali was possibly asymptomatic.
“Maaari po na meron siyang dinadamdam pero hindi natin ito nakikita (She may be feeling something but we can’t see it),” he said.
According to Peña-Domingo, the average lifespan of an Asian elephant like Mali is around 40-45 years. Mali died at age 43.
“Matanda na po siya (She’s already old),” he noted.
Mali was brought to the Philippines from Sri Lanka in 1977 as a gift to then First Lady Imelda Marcos.
Advocates have called for Mali’s transfer to an animal sanctuary overseas, pointing out that isolation and unnatural habitat was detrimental to her well-being.