McCartney writes Aquino: Free Mali

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The former Beatles writes a letter to President Aquino urging the elephant's transfer to Thailand

SUPPORT FOR MALI. The Beatle adds his voice to this cause. Photo from the Free Mali Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Mali, the elephant in the middle of a controversy over her captivity at the Manila Zoo, has gained a new sympathizer in the person of Sir Paul McCartney.

In a letter dated July 19 to President Aquino, the former Beatle urged the President to expedite Mali’s transfer to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.

“I am writing to add my voice to the many others who are supporting the transfer of Mali, the lonely elephant currently being held at the Manila Zoo, to a sanctuary in Thailand as soon as possible,” wrote McCartney.

I have great regard for governments that intervene [in] behalf of animals, just as yours did with the May 2012 directive ordering that Mali be evaluated and considered for transfer.”

Yet McCartney also lamented that “it has been more than a year since that directive,” adding that he has “heard from my friends at PETA that various government authorities are continuing to deny that Mali’s welfare should be within their jurisdiction.”

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) is at the forefront of this movement for the elephant’s relocation and is supported in this cause by local and foreign celebrities. 

Peta said in its official blog that Manila’s city officials are “stalling” despite Aquino’s directive.

The group also maintained that the elephant sanctuary in Thailand would provide Mali “acres to roam, rivers to bathe in, fresh vegetation to eat, foraging opportunities, the company of many other elephants, and, of course, the care of elephant experts 24 hours a day.”

In his letter, McCartney also cited a video footage of Mali’s condition that he described as “heartbreaking.”

“I was shocked to learn that Mali has never even received proper preventive foot care when foot and joint problems are the leading cause of death among captive elephants kept on hard surfaces and when this type of care is something that every reputable zoo in the world offers.”

“Action must be taken for this ailing elephant, and you hold the key,” McCartney wrote Aquino. “With the stroke of a pen, you can bring an end to her suffering, and I urge you, with all my heart, to direct that Mali be given that joy now.”

The singer-songwriter closed his letter with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi “that I hope you believe in, too: ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.'”

It will be recalled that McCartney’s often cited connection with Manila is his performing with his old band in 1966. This event turned out to be a highly contentious tour, because of a miscommunication that led to the Beatles’ no-show at a reception in Malacañan where then First Lady Imelda Marcos and her children were expecting the band.

Malacañan has yet to confirm, as of this reporting, if the President has received the letter.

But Manila’s newly elected mayor, former Philippine president Joseph Estrada, has rejected the call for Mali’s transfer. Estrada also said the zoo will bring in two more elephants. –

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