Latin America

No meeting with Pamela Anderson to move Mali

Transferring Mali, the elephant, to a sanctuary in Thailand will take more than a meeting with Pamela Anderson

TOO OLD TO TRAVEL. Freeing Mali and transferring her poses a risk to her health. Photo by Katherine Visconti

MANILA, Philippines – Not even a meeting with Hollywood celebrity Pamela Anderson can fast-track the transfer of Mali, the elephant, to a sanctuary in Thailand. 

In a DZMM interview on Saturday, May 4, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said transferring Mali will require several clearances and steps. He said that for one, the national government needs to ensure that the sanctuary in Thailand will really give Mali the care that she needs. 

International vets hired by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had said the concrete floor of Mali’s enclosure at the Manila Zoo is bad for her arthritis and could be fatal

Anderson, the “Baywatch” actress, recently offered to meet with President Benigno Aquino III to convince him to move Mali. Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda earlier said the President had no time for the meeting, and jokingly added that perhaps, Alcala did. PETA had delivered to Alcala a petition with over 60,000 signatures, asking that Mali be transferred.

Alcala said the permission of the local government unit (LGU) concerned — Manila, which owns the Manila Zoo — will also be required. He said that his department can only offer recommendations and suggestions, which can be rejected by the city. 

“Hindi po kasi ganun kadali ito, country to country po ito. Ang alam ko po, ang Thailand mismo might not be willing to accept yung atin pong elepante. Kasi pag binigay natin sa kanila, that means tatanggapin nila yung responsibilidad sa pagpapakain, pag-me-maintain and everything. Hindi ko po alam kung ano yung nasa isip ng Thailand. Yun pong recommendation will be released a few days from now as soon as makuha po namin yung sasabihin ng Thailand,” Alcala explained.

(It’s not that easy because this is country to country. From what I know, Thailand might not be willing to accept our elephant. Once we give it to them and they accept, it means they also accept the responsibility of feed and maintain him. I don’t know what they are thinking. The recommendation will be released a few days from now, as soon as we hear from Thailand.)


Alcala said transferring Mali to the sanctuary in Thailand will require the government to send a team to assess the conditions in that sanctuary, if it is fit for Mali to stay in. 

Manila Zoological Division chief Dr Donald Manalastas, meanwhile, said given Mali’s age, she is likely unfit to travel long distances. This is a major concern since Alcala said  Mali could only travel by boat. 

Manalastas said Mali is 39 years old, which is already old, considering that the average age for Asian elephants is 42 years old. 

“Yung transport na po niya ay napaka-delikado. Ang pag-transport ng mga ganitong klaseng hayop, kahit may ma-provide tayo, ay may risk na po yun. Parang tao lang po, ang tao po hindi na pinag-bi-byahe pag matanda na po siya,” Manalastas said. (Transporting her is very dangerous. There are risks involved in transporting this kind of animal, even if we make provisions. It’s no different from transporting an old person who is seldom allowed to travel because of age.)

“Kaya po ang (suggestion) namin ay aayusin na lamang po ang aming facilities, upgrade the facilities (for) Mali para maging kumportable naman siya,” he added. (This is why our suggestion is to just improve our facilities, upgrade the facilities to make Mali comfortable.)

Manalastas said Manila Zoo is also being assisted by various animal rights groups that have volunteered to help take care of Mali. –

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