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World's 'saddest' elephant dies after more than 40 years alone in a concrete pen at Manila Zoo

Rebecca Rommen   

World's 'saddest' elephant dies after more than 40 years alone in a concrete pen at Manila Zoo
  • The "world's saddest elephant" has died in the Philippines after spending her life in captivity.
  • Celebrities, including Sir Paul McCartney, had called for her release.

Mali, a beloved elephant at Manila Zoo in the Philippines, has died after spending over four decades alone in a dilapidated pen.

She was dubbed one of the world's "saddest" elephants by animal activists.

Critics of Mali's treatment pointed to the conditions at Manila Zoo, citing Mali's solitary existence and the lack of proper medical care. In response, zoo authorities argued that Mali, having spent her entire life in captivity, was best suited to that environment.

Sir Paul McCartney, and other celebrities, including Pamela Anderson, called for the release of Mali, per PETA Asia.

In 2013, he sent a letter to Benigno Aquino III, who was president of the Philippines at the time, asking him to transfer the elephant to a spacious sanctuary in Thailand, where she could be among other elephants.

In the wild, female elephants live in herds of family groups led by a matriarch, raising their offspring and forming enduring, emotional relationships.

Last week, Mali started showing signs of distress and was treated with antihistamines and vitamins. She passed away on Tuesday afternoon. An autopsy revealed cancer in some organs and a blockage in her aorta.

Mali arrived as a baby elephant at Manila Zoo in 1981 as a gift from the Sri Lankan government to former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos. For over 40 years, she lived as the sole elephant in the zoo.

Her death has reignited discussions about the conditions of animals in captivity and the responsibilities of zoos to provide proper medical care.

A PETA Asia statement said Mali died in her "barren concrete pen," denied expert treatment by a vet, because of "indifference and greed," per CBS News.

Mali was one of the most popular attractions at Manila Zoo.

"She was the face that greeted everyone who visited Manila Zoo. She is a part of our lives," said Honey Lacuna, the mayor of Manila, per BBC News.


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