Morrissey asks Aquino to free Philippine elephant


Mali pictured in 2008: Morrissey wants the elephant sent into retirement. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Rock icon Morrissey called on Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Thursday, ahead of a Manila concert, to send what the star described as Manila Zoo’s long-suffering elephant into retirement.

The British ex-singer of alternative rock group The Smiths said Mali, 37, deserved a reprieve from a lifetime of confinement.

“I ask that you send Mali to a sanctuary, where she would have room to roam and be able to be among other members of her own species,” Morrissey wrote ahead of his May 13 Manila show.

Aquino’s office received the letter Thursday and is evaluating it, his spokeswoman Abigail Valte told reporters.

Echoing allegations by the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Morrissey said Mali had been unable to roam and socialize unlike her cousins in the wild.

“Her life consists of extreme loneliness, boredom and isolation in an area that is a fraction of the size of her natural habitat,” he said, suggesting this could drive her to insanity.

PETA, which Morrissey supports, wants Mali shipped to a US sanctuary for old, sick or needy elephants that have been retired from zoos and circuses.

It was not the first time Aquino’s intervention had been sought over conditions at the nearly 53-year-old zoo.

Last year a college student’s blog about apparently mistreated zoo animals provoked an instant Internet global furor and forced Aquino to call on officials to look into their welfare.

Manila Zoo chief veterinarian Donald Manalastas insisted Thursday that contrary to allegations Mali, donated by Sri Lanka in 1980 after its parents were poached, was well and fit.

“We have expanded the enclosure of Mali and increased her food with more nutrients. We have proof and papers of what we feed her. We do not torture her,” Manalastas told AFP.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Malik62

    Morrissey should have asked BS Aquino x3 to free the Filipino people from the harm he is bringing on them due to his inept, hypocritical and corrupt governance, by resigning as president.

    • j3ypi

      And you prefer Jejomar Binay to govern the country? Or you want him to step down as well? 

      Why dont you send an email / letter to Aquino and ask him to step down? Then grow some balls and run for presidency. Maybe you would not be so inept, hyporcite and corrupt than Aquino and all past leaders we’ve had.

  • Echuserang_Froglet

    kailangan british rocker pa ang sumulat para pansinin ng abnoy. mas mabuti isara na ang manila zoo. kawawa ang mga hayop dyan. kahayupan tlga ang trato sa kanila. kung gusto niyo makakita ng world class zoo sa singapore zoo dun maayos pag trato sa mga hayop. 

    • wilms1963

      saan naman namin kukunin ang pamasahe, pangkain, panghotel namin pag nagpunta kaming singapore… eh dyan sa manila zoo 30 pesos lang  ang bayad….

  • Diepor

    I been to Manila zoo once ,never again. Its a terrible place.

  • kathycg

    We were waiting for Morrissey at Manila Zoo yesterday so we can explain our side. He never came.

    I’ve been a zoo volunteer for the last 12 years. Manila Zoo is the only home she’s ever known, and there are people there who love and take care of her. We do provide her enrichment, we do what we can to make sure she’s healthy and she’s happy. It’s not perfect, but at least with the help of some of the world’s experts on animal behavior – we’re trying to do our best.

    Morrissey unfortunately knows nothing of her. He’s probably never even seen her, and everything reported her sounds like the press kit they released last year.They just don’t get it. She can’t be moved, she’ll die. Ma’ali hates trucks, and she’ll need to be sedated while she’s in transit. The stress of transportation will kill her – but PETA doesn’t seem to care about this. 

    The group has a very strong stance on euthanasia after all. In their US headquarters, they killed 85% of the animals that were brought to their care, saying that they were unadoptable or couldn’t be homed. In contrast, smaller organizations with less money do the best they can to make sure abandoned pets are given a chance to find people who will love them.

    They talk about returning her to the wild, but every other elephant facility in Asia is overpopulated with elephants who also need help. Due to human encroachment, there isn’t also a lot of wild areas where they can stay without being in danger.

    They’ll tell you they’ll move her to a facility in Tennessee. How far and how long will Maali be in transit? Will she survive the winter (a season she’s never experienced). She’s an Asian Elephant, and growing up here – she’s practically Filipino.

    PETA grandstands and picks on Maali. They do that every year around July when they need to fund raise for themselves. They’ve even put an icon on their website for it. We’ve tried to invite them to volunteer with the zoo so that together we can make it a better place for the animals and for the children. They’ve repeatedly turned us down.

    Where are they when animals really need help? Last month, a story broke about how 200 pitbulls were rescued from a dog-fighting ring. CARA and PAWS stepped up to the plate and upto now are still caring for the remaining dogs. They desperately need help. PETA is nowhere to be found.

    It’s hard to fight a big, advertising savvy organization. Their advertising budget (reportedly about 34.7 million dollars in the US) is bigger than their animal rehabilitation budget. So instead of just making noise, maybe we can all find a way to help Ma’ali and help Manila Zoo.

  • Jon Balaos

    The question is, which sanctuary to put Mali in? And does anyone have a budget to send her over there? Can Morrisey and Peta donate coming out of their pockets? Are you people out there who supports their message donate as well? And can Peta oversee her welfare? Because as far as I know, Peta ironically euthanize animals too as explained by kathycg (see below comment), and that’s a true story! Look for their shenanigans over the internet. And the animal has already bonded with her human keepers and surroundings. Putting her back in the wild will make her unprepared, perhaps even be harassed by the wilder elephants. Do you guys out there want that to happen? 

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks




latest videos