Mali, the ‘world’s saddest elephant’ has died after spending over four decades at the Manila Zoo.
The Asian elephant, which caught the attention of singer Paul McCartney back in 2013 when he raised awareness for the animal in association with PETA, earned the nickname because she’s the only captive elephant in the country and had lived by herself at the facility for over 40 years.
At the time, PETA said Mali was “enduring loneliness, intense confinement, isolation, and boredom” in an enclosure that is only a fraction of the size of her true habitat.
A Thailand elephant sanctuary was going to take the elephant in, but the plans fell through and she ultimately stayed in Manila Zoo, where she remained the main attraction.
Other celebrities, including Jane Goodall and Pamela Anderson, had also tried to raise awareness in a ‘Free Mali’ campaign.
Toward the end of her life, the 45-year-old Asian elephant was diagnosed with cancer and was often spotted rubbing her trunk against a wall, which meant that she was in pain, according to chief veterinarian Henrich Pena-Domingo, who took care of her at the zoo.
On Tuesday, the team gave her vitamins and antihistamines after she started to breathe heavily. Despite their best efforts, however, she died a few hours later.
While animal rights groups advocated for her to be moved to a sanctuary, the Manila zoo claimed that it would be better for her to stay as it’s the only place she’s known. They also argued that she was receiving medical care from their veterinarian team.
According to PETA Asia, Mali, who was originally transferred to the Philippines from Sri Lanka, died by herself in a ‘barren concrete pan’ due to ‘greed and indifference.’
The organization also described her enclosure as ‘torture’ for the animal, as female elephants usually live their lives with other females and work together to raise their offspring.
PETA also claimed that the 45-year-old elephant was never given routine veterinary care as there was no elephant specialist in the Philippines – something that she would have received if she had been transferred to the elephant sanctuary.
Because of this, they believe the zoo should be held responsible for her suffering and death.
According to People’s Trust for Endangered Species, a conversation charity based in the UK, Asian elephants such as Mali, have an average lifespan of 70 years in the wild and approximately 80 years in captivity. In 2019, the oldest Asian elephant in captivity died at the age of 88.