Why Maali Should Stay at The Manila Zoo

PETA does not even care enough to spell the elephant-they’re-using‘s name right! It’s “Maali,” with two A’s and not “Mali”. In Filipino, the word “mali” simply means “WRONG”. If PETA can’t get basic facts right, such as a name, then it has no business talking about Maali at all.

PETA resorts to publicity stunts (cheap and crude tactics, if you ask me) which in truth are manipulative, self-serving campaigns and outright lies to deceive the public. These “strategies” exploit human emotion in order to gain blind support and solicited funds that will never be used to actually help Maali. Has there been any published report to show where ALL the money given to PETA “for Maali” actually goes? If you were born yesterday, then you’re easily made into yet another pawn to help PETA squeeze support and more money from more people that it will likely just spend on itself, its people, and on yet more campaigns to keep the money coming in. It’s an organization that thrives on your “donations”.

If one were to have a bullshit translator, PETA’s campaign to “Save Maali” in truth would probably say something along the lines of, Give us your money (tax-free!) and help us get more people to give us money. We will spend it to keep our organization afloat and pay for more campaigns. None of it will ever actually be spent on Maali nor her needs. All your donations are belong to us.


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By Kathy Chua-Grimme

Three reasons why Maali should stay and if she’s forced to go, why they should start by helping here.

Why Maali Should Stay at The Manila Zoo

  1. Maali’s home is here, Maali’s heart is here.
    This is the only life Maali has ever known, and she’s surrounded by people who love her. With the right enrichment programs, it is possible to keep her happy in Manila Zoo. Moving her to a sanctuary will not guarantee her happiness. She was bullied by other elephants when she was younger and may still be bearing psychological scars from those encounters.

    While it is true that most elephants are herd animals, they can also form bonds with non-elephants. They’ve been known to also be attached to their mahoots (caregivers) and pine away when separated. Maali has formed very strong bonds here – and separating her from them can be devastating for her.

    Elephants have their own personalities, histories and quirks making them as diversely unique as people. She loves the interaction and socialization she gets from meeting zoo visitors – it has been an integral part of her life. Other animals have been “freed” and have died miserably because people refused to look at them as individuals and instead boxed them in with the stereotypes of their wild counterparts.

  2. She’s old and may not survive the move.
    Maali is 38 years old, the average lifespan of an Asian elephant in a zoo 41 years. In the twilight of her life, is it right to still rip her away from everything she knows and force her to undergo unfamiliar, uncertain and even frightening experiences?

    She hates trucks and would exhibit signs of stress each time she sees or hears one. The last time she traveled was over 30 years ago when she moved from the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka to the Manila Zoo. She was just a calf and was easily crated. Any move now will entail a long and arduous process which includes sedation, confinement and isolation.

    Most people die wishing to be surrounded by their loved ones – why should it be any different for her?

  3. Extraditing her to an executioner.
    The Thai elephant importations are stringent for a very good reason. They are trying to protect their endemic herds of elephants. If what the activists claims are true – that Maali is sick – then she’ll never pass the quarantine requirements and she will be destroyed (killed). They know this because they also have a copy of the quarantine requirements. (PETA) An organization that is known for having absolutely no qualms about euthanizing perfectly healthy dogs and cats will most likely have the same regard for an aging, ailing elephant.

    Even if Maali wasn’t sick, the regulations stipulate that the elephant being imported should not come from a country that has rampant cases of rabies, tuberculosis, and other such diseases. Sadly, the Philippines has its fair share of these illnesses.

    The organization behind her move has repeatedly expressed that they will shoulder all costs to transfer her there, but will they transfer her back if she fails the quarantine requirements?

Back Stories

There are many back stories behind this bid to move Maali to a “sanctuary” in Thailand. One of them is the closure of Manila Zoo. Sitting on prime property – I’m sure this 5.5 hectare plot of land has caught the eye of many real estate developers. This interest group paired with a left-wing animal rights group means that the zoo’s future may be in great peril.

The proponent of this move is a staunch advocate of euthanizing surplus and rescued animals as well as closing zoos around the world. They seem to think that if they take Maali away, the zoo will be easy to close. It’s no secret that they’d rather see an animal dead than in captivity, even when it is completely possible to make animals content through good environmental and behavioral enrichment programs.

Manila Zoo is not really a zoo in a sense that zoos acquire new animals for display and charge exorbitant entrance fees for its upkeep and improvement. With exception of the two oldest residents at the zoo, every single animal there is a rescued animal. Many of them have been donated by people who have grown tired of them, the more exotic ones usually have pending court cases. It’s a sanctuary for animals who would have otherwise had no place or chance of survival in the wild.

The zoo is subsidized by the City Government so that we too would have a lush haven in this concrete jungle called Manila. It is one of our last remaining parks – and is a important educational center, especially for underprivileged families. Will we resign our children to growing up in malls because we’ve let foreign and commercial organizations take away our parks? Where will the rescued animals go if Manila Zoo closes?

Why Maali Should Stay at The Manila Zoo

The “sanctuary” they propose to move her to runs on donations and ticket sales. It’s not even a government-accredited sanctuary. Hard-pressed for funds, they find themselves soliciting for medicines and funds. Why move her to a place where her future may be uncertain?

The organization gathering support for her move, collects signatures mostly from people who have never met her. And the few who have, spend a few minutes trying to capture an image that will support a preconceived judgment of her life. They’ve already made up their minds before meeting her – where’s the fairness in that?

If organizations are lobbying to move her to where they think her life may be better, why not start by making her life better here? They can use some of the funds they’ve raised to help with her enrichment programs and training. If the move is inevitable, then helping her here and now with those two programs will allow her to better transition to the proposed location. Help the zoo fix her enclosure so it’s as close to the feel of sanctuary as possible.

It took us three months to introduce the newly renovated section to her. She’ll need time to get used to the feel of soil on her feet, and whatever else she might encounter in the sanctuary. Start now at the zoo so she can get introduced gently, and still be comforted by what is familiar.

Why Maali Should Stay at The Manila Zoo

Encouraging Maali to take first steps into her new enclosure.

The organization should also help with making sure she’ll pass all the necessary health requirements. They’ll need specific data covering a period of at least two years. Let’s not do short cuts that might jeopardize her life. Have a clear plan laid out in the event that she fails quarantine.

The organization behind all this will make her their martyr whether she lives or dies. Maali deserves more than just to be a group’s publicity stunt. Before jumping on the bandwagon, please take the time to get to know her. Not everything written in a press-release is true, especially when its by a group that couldn’t be bothered to spend more than an hour with her before calling up a newspaper to run their story.

Freeing Maali sounds good on paper. The scariest thing in this entire controversy is exactly that some groups are more concerned about press and publicity than they actually are about Maali’s welfare. To them, moving her may be a great achievement – but hopefully not at the expense of her happiness or her life.


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Updates / More related links:

Why Maali Should Stay at The Manila Zoo

“Doesn’t come in as a surprise tactic… That’s their way of life.” – John Chua

Why Maali Should Stay at The Manila Zoo

Latest publicity stunt / circus act: The “lonely and suffering” naked models of PETA. The money wasted on this could have instead been used more productively and pro-actively – such as towards the improvement of Maali’s current living conditions.


Because of what PETA has been doing lately, international animal welfare groups are now curious and want to find out the Truth:

Why Maali Should Stay at The Manila Zoo

Knowledge is power in this Internet Age. Before joining PETA’s Circus, please read this:

[EXCERPT] Well-meaning but misinformed people think animals in the wild are “happy” because they are “free”. These people usually have a large, handsome predator in mind… The life of the wild animal is simple, noble and meaningful, they imagine. Then it is captured by wicked men and thrown into tiny jails. Its “happiness” is dashed. It yearns mightily for “freedom” and does all it can to escape. Being denied its “freedom” for too long, the animal becomes a shadow of itself, its spirit broken. So some people imagine.

This is not the way it is.

Continue reading here, or see the original post: “Animals in captivity” Life of Pi – Yann Martel.


Eat this, PETA!

Based on experience with previous elephant transfers, it is most likely that PETA’s misguided advocacy to send Maali to the sanctuary in Thailand will trigger a lengthy adjustment period and cause her to suffer absolute social isolation.

“Maali dying in full grief is highly likely in Thailand.”

Why Maali Should Stay at The Manila Zoo