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On Maali the Elephant: Deconstructing PETA’s Arguments, Piece by Piece


On Maali the Elephant: Deconstructing PETA's Arguments, Piece by Piece
On Maali the Elephant: Deconstructing PETA’s Arguments, Piece by Piece

Just a note: we have received a warning from Facebook that they want us to DELETE the post (see below) refuting the arguments of PETA because they claim it violates community standards. That is CENSORSHIP. The truth needs to be told, irrespective of whether or not PETA agrees with it. [Share this and help spread the truth!] They want to abuse us and say all kinds of things, but they are hurt when their arguments are refuted? NEVER!”

– The We Love Maali Facebook Page


1. 24/7 VETERINARY CARE IN BLES? Check your facts, Jana Sevilla!

Manila Zoo currently has 4 qualified veterinarians on site who can attend to the animals. They also have a medical clinic. BLES is currently soliciting for the construction of a medical clinic in their sanctuary, which they do not have in place. To quote their webpage, “Since BLES was established in 2007, the dire need for a vetinariany clinic [sic] has been paramount.” Elephant hospitals in northern Thailand are six-hour drives away from the sanctuary. Seedor Gam, a 40-year old bull, died last year in October 14, 2012 from an infection transmitted by horseflies. He had to be driven to Lampang elephant hospital, a considerable distance away. For any qualified vet, that is a textbook case to diagnose, treat and prevent! Seedor Gam did not need to die. Somsri, a 70-year old cow, died in March 2013 of this year after battling an infection. The Star Medical clinic is not yet finished. So how will Maali be treated if there is no clinic on site in the sanctuary? What about emergencies?



Dr. Mel Richardson, the veterinarian sent by PETA to examine Maali, has been censured by the Woodland Park Zoo for making recommendations on their elephants despite the fact that “He has had no contact with the veterinary
staff, elephant staff or the elephants in more than 20 years. He is not licensed to practice in Washington
state.” Does that sound like a world-class expert to you?

Dr. Mel Richardson is also part of the litigious group that LOST in the Canadian Supreme Court for filing a nuisance case against the Edmonton Zoo for not moving Lucy. Another veterinarian, Dr. James Osterhuis REJECTED the proposal because Lucy’s respiratory problems could have been exacerbated by the move, making it risky and potentially fatal. To quote CBC: “The Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Rooke ruled that the legal proceeding amounted to an abuse of process.”



Dr. Nikorn Thongtip is a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the oldest and most prestigious conservation group in the world. He has published scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and most importantly, belongs to a neutral party. He is an instructor in Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Kasetsart University. As a member of IUCN, his primary goal is conservation, especially of an endangered species such as Indian elephants. Knowing the dangers of a move, he recommended that Maali stays. He has also contradicted Dr. Richardson’s assertion and said she is healthy.



No. Sanctuary does not automatically mean “better”. Dedicated individuals in Toronto have unearthed, through FOI requests, that Tuberculosis was a prevalent concern in the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in California where their elephants are proposed to be sent. Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary, where PETA originally suggested Maali be transfered, has also had a TB outbreak.

Even if the sanctuary is disease-free, moving old elephants may not be the most human decision. Winky, a 52-year old elephant, had much difficulty adjusting after being moved to PAWS by the Detroit Zoo. She died the same year she was transferred. She also refused to get out of her truck



Maali is a Sri Lankan elephant which is an entirely different subspecies of Asian elephant from Thai elephants. When Maali first arrived in Manila Zoo, she encountered Jimbo (Thai bull) and Sheba (African cow). They did not get along and both elephants bullied her. Integrating into a matriarchal herd full of elephants that do not belong to her subspecies is an extremely difficult proposition.

Mayor Estrada’s suggestion of bringing two more Sri Lankan elephants to Manila Zoo are actually IN COMPLIANCE with Association of Zoos and Aquariums standards for elephant management and care. AZA requires that zoos hold at least three females, two males or three elephants of mixed gender. However, if Mayor Estrada also decides to keep Maali and Maali alone for humane reasons, this is also in compliance with recommendations by experts.



No. Concrete plans are being made to provide Maali with a better living arrangement within Manila Zoo, by improving her enclosure. Behavioral enrichment opportunities are also being studied and provided.

7. MAALI is going to Subic, for sure.

This is only a proposal and is not definitive! This is only a tentative proposal that is being entertained, but it is not a guarantee. All of the arguments against translocation apply, as well as Maali’s disposition. Also, if executed improperly, Maali can die in transport.


Clarification Post

1. Position on Translocation of Captive Animals

In general, as a group, we are not opposed to the translocation of captive animals back into the wild. However, we believe that translocation should only be done if it is for the animal’s welfare, which should be assessed on a case-to-case basis. Broad sweeping generalizations help nobody, especially not animals who should be considered as individuals.

Although we would like to live in an idealistic world where all animals fare well after they are released or translocated, that is sadly not the case. In an article published in BioScience discussing the ethical issues surrounding the release of animals in captivity, the authors identified elements of what would be a “responsible release project” (Waples & Stagoll, 1997).

The first thing they emphasized is that RELEASE CANDIDATES SHOULD BE CAREFULLY SELECTED because not all individuals will have an equal capacity for survival. They state: “The reason to select appropriate release candidates has to do with the individuality of animals. The reasoning applied to the ethical consideration of individual animals on the one hand and groups of animals on the other is not strictly interchangeable. What, then, is the caretaker’s ethical responsibility to treat each animal as an individual with a unique history and circumstances? The answer to this question might help to determine whether some individual animals are good candidates for release, whereas others should not be released under any circumstances.”

Given Maali’s well-documented case of neophobia, experts have good reason to suspect that she will have immense difficulty adjusting to new circumstances. Manila Zoo is also doing the responsible and ETHICAL thing because they are the caretakers who have assessed Maali’s personality who have known her for many years.

Many people state that Manila Zoo is holding on to Maali for the money she generates, but that is a blatant lie. If money was the primary motivation for Manila Zoo’s actions, then they would have sold her to PETA years ago. Ironically, it is Manila Zoo and not PETA that is behaving ETHICALLY with respect to this situation!

Another important element of a responsible release project they identified is the SELECTION OF AN APPROPRIATE RELEASE SITE. To quote the article verbatim, “The preferable location would be one in which the animal was initially captured or, if it was born in captivity, where its closest relatives were captured. Releasing an animal into a historically unfamiliar area may reduce its chances of acceptance into the social group and its ability to cope with climactic conditions and local food resources.” PETA’s suggestion of releasing Maali to Thailand when she is a Sri Lankan native has all the makings of an IRRESPONSIBLE release project.

At the end of the day, all of the celebrities who have stripped and posed for PETA have signed their name to something that no reputable scientist or wildlife practitioner would ever endorse as ethical release. As people who are in the public eye who are meant to be exemplars, they should wield their fame responsibly and do their research before taking one organization’s word for the truth.

In closing, we believe in translocation but only if it satisfies the criteria of a responsible release project. Unfortunately, PETA’s proposal does not meet that criteria. So now we pose the question to all the famous people they gathered in their corner: did you do your due diligence?

PETA logo
Hey, PETA. In Filipino, ‘PERA’ means ‘MONEY’.

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  • I wonder what Facebook’s community standards are? How can something you wrote – just citing facts from your research – be violating those standards?

    • Here are the Facebook Community Standards. Take your pick.

      It is most probable that PETA/PERA and its minions are the ones who submitted violation reports to Facebook. Devastated by their lack of defense against our response, PETA/PERA are now the ones with the gall to feel bullied and harassed or even hated.

      PETA/PERA should just stop its usual activist bullshit in the exploitation of the poor elephant for donations; none of which have ever reached Maali. Maali is not your cash cow, PETA/PERA!

    Mali’s basic needs means he needs to be in an environment with other elephants, either a sanctuary or in the wild. She shouldn’t be stuck in that rubbish zoo.

    1: just because they have veterinarians doesn’t mean Mali should stay there. If a human was locked in a cage, but was allowed visits from doctors, would that human be better off in that cage? No, this applies to Mali too. If any sanctuaries need closer clinics then that is something animal rights activists can fundraise for. Step 1: is getting Mali out of that hell hole concrete enclosure. Stop making poor excuses for people who pretend to care about the happiness of animals.

    2.I don’t care if PETA has a world class expert or not. I am not a supporter of PETA, I am a supporter of my own morals and values, and that includes animal rights. Any social animal that spends over 30 years alone in a tiny enclosure that doesnt allow them to carry out natural urges (elephants like to walk for over 50+ miles day and live in herds) is not living life to the fullest and could be happier elsewhere. THAT IS WHY I WANT MALI TO LEAVE THE ZOO.

    3. Healthy or not, Mali should leave the zoo. She could be happier elsewhere with other animals of her kind. Elephants need lots of space to walk, they like to walk on grass, bathe in water, play with other elephants etc. Mali CAN’T do any of that at Manila zoo, so even if she is healthy , it doesn’t mean she is happy. Anyone who cares about animals would want an animal to be HAPPY AND HEALTHY AND LIVE A LIFE THAT ALLOWS THEM TO DO NATURAL BEHAVIOR, IF you don’t want either of these things for Mali too, clearly your selfish and don’t care.

    4: There are no guarantees, but at the very least, Mali deserves a chance to have a better life. Animals always have health problems at some point in their life (even wild ones) as long as there is good healthcare available and measures are taken to reduce risk, thats a good start.

    5: Elephants ARE social creatures and do prefer to be with their own kind. They live in herds genius. If they hated it they would live alone. You don’t need to be smart to figure that out. Sri lanken elephants like to live with other Sri lanken elephants.

    6: The zoo has not been providing adequate care for their animals for many years. All the media attention has put them under the spotlight and that is the only reason they will make changes. Its sad to know the zoo is run by people who put the needs of the animals second. If they really cared they would have tried to do it years ago (Mali has been alone for 36 years).

    Is it a coincidence that after all the media attention the zoo has planned small improvements? No, they are only dong it to to serve their own interests, otherwise they would have done it years ago. They want to keep Mali at the zoo. By making small improvements ( Mali will still need more) they can say that the argument for Mali’s removal is no longer an issue and they hope animal rights activists will drop the campaign. Purely selfish and evil people.They clearly don’t care about anything but themselves. I’m so glad I am not like that. I want what is best for Mali. Can you honestly say the same?

    Think about it from a different point of view besides your own. If you were Mali could you really say your living the best life you could have? Of course not.

    • You have a right to your opinion, but the point is moving Maali out of the zoo now or at any point in the future will most likely kill her.

      In short, it can be compared to uprooting and transplanting a glorious, giant redwood: logic suggests that doing so will just kill it prematurely. Keeping Maali at the zoo and helping out to continually improve her living conditions instead is the safer and more practical option.

      You make it sound as if Maali were malnourished, unloved, and maltreated. In fact, that elephant is more loved and cared for than a lot of humans ever are. She is even on the plump side and should ideally lose a little weight. ๐Ÿ˜‰


      xkcd: Duty Calls

    • Hey genius, I’m an animals rights activist and unfortunately for you, your post only shows how ignorant you are.

      1. If adequate veterinary care was provided as BLES, then those two elephants wouldn’t have died

      Seedor Gam had to be driven to Lampang, six hours away just to receive medical care. If activists want to raise money for BLES’s clinic, then let them. Don’t let them use Maali to do it, stupid. Maali shouldn’t be subsidizing their clinic. Let them get their own money instead of using Maali’s image in their T-shirts.

      2. Downplaying World Class Experts? Pity your ignorant mind, you armchair activist.

      Unfortunately, between both of us, I’m a member of an organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation for animal welfare that’s helped pass acts into Philippine law pertaining to animal welfare such as the Anti-Rabies act of 2007. Good for you if like animals but your good intentions are not enough. If you were an expert in animal welfare or animal rights, you’d have participated in raids of illegal slaughterhouses with the NBI, prosecuted syndicates who distribute fetish videos featuring animal cruelty and done adequate research to see why translocation is a bad idea. If YOU were really qualified as an “animal rights” expert, you would have done all of these things. Sadly, all you seem to do is whine on the internet with uninformed opinions that make you look like the epitome of ignorance.

      3. SELFISH?

      PETA has not spent a single peso on Maali’s welfare to provide for her needs. In fact, I have not seen you spend a single peso on Maali or her needs. You haven’t even bothered to use some scientific literature to back up your statements. If anyone is selfish, it’s YOU because you have done NOTHING except attack people who have acted and spent their own money to help Maali.

      4. Maali does deserve a chance to live a better life

      Which is why we are working to give her that, you ignoramus!


      Elephants in Thailand are not Sri Lankan elephants! Sri Lankan elephants belong to the subspecies Elephas maximus maximus while Thai elephants belong to the subspecies Elephas maximus indicus.

      When the Sri Lankan government wanted to give Maali a companion in 2011 PETA raised such a fuss:


      6. The Zoo has not provided adequate care for animals for many years

      The City of Manila is bankrupt! Manila Zoo’s funding comes from the Parks and Recreation Bureau of the City of Manila. With low admission rates that have not adjusted for inflation, Manila Zoo operates at a loss but it has not compromised the spending for medicines or food. Unfortunately, that means funding is inadequate unless private donors or corporations come in.

      PETA has blocked and threatened any corporation that wants to support the zoo with boycotts and intimidation. They are linked to FBI recognized Terrorists groups such as the ALF and the ELF. In fact, in 2005, a US Senator called for a probe into FBI and their terrorist tactics. Now, who is EVIL?



      FBI Files on PETA


      FBI Files on ALF and ELF:



      7. “Purely selfish and evil people.They clearly donโ€™t care about anything but themselves. Iโ€™m so glad I am not like that. I want what is best for Mali. Can you honestly say the same?”

      Excuse me, purely selfish and evil people? PETA has not given a single peso from their campaign to help Maali or give her what she needs NOW.

      Instead they are probably using the money to get more attention for themselves, pay their salaries, profit off of her image through T-shirts.




      So in closing, because of your ignorance, YOU are the IGNORANT, STUPID and SELFISH PERSON. Take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask if you can live with yourself. If I were you, I couldn’t. Your deliberate lack of ability to due diligence makes you a threat, not only to Maali’s welfare, but to your susceptibility and gullibility to the propaganda spread by terroritst.

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