Church backs transfer of Manila Zoo elephant
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has joined the clamor of animal rights advocates for the transfer of Mali, Manila Zoo’s only elephant, to a sanctuary where she would be freed from “years of boredom and misery.”
In a letter to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), CBCP president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said the Church hierarchy was sending its strong support for the retirement of the 36-year-old Mali.
Palma said he hoped that Mali would soon be allowed to spend her remaining years in her natural habitat where she could freely take mud baths, pluck fruits and leaves from trees, graze and spend hours swimming and playing in the company of other elephants.
“It is my ardent wish that this initiative be done at the soonest time possible,” wrote Palma. “She might have a few years to live but these remaining years will be more expressive of man’s compassion towards God’s other creatures.”
The archbishop also said he was glad to learn that the Philippines would soon join other countries around the world in closing down their elephant exhibits in zoos.
He cited the United States and United Kingdom, where zoos have already retired resident elephants, and India which has ordered that all elephants in its zoos be transferred to sanctuaries.
“Thanks to a directive from President Aquino and the work of Peta, a sanctuary could offer Mali a chance to save her from years of boredom and misery and, above all, save her life,” Palma said in his letter.
“The reason is simple: Elephants are intelligent and social animals, and their needs cannot be met in captivity,” wrote the CBCP president, noting that Manila Zoo’s Mali was currently enduring intense confinement, loneliness, boredom and isolation in an area “a fraction of the size of her natural habitat.”