Gov’t vets check if Mali fit for Thailand trip

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11:45 PM January 16th, 2013

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By: Niña P. Calleja, January 16th, 2013 11:45 PM

BORED AND IN MISERY? Animal welfare activists believe Manila Zoo’s lone elephant Mali badly needs company and a change of environment. AFP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Mali, the Manila Zoo’s only elephant, has been undergoing tests at the Bureau of the Animal Industry to determine if she is fit to be transferred to a sanctuary in Thailand as animal welfare advocates want.

BAI director Rubina Cresencio said President Aquino recently ordered the BAI and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to evaluate the petition of the animal welfare groups that are protesting Mali’s continued confinement at the Manila Zoo.

The groups want Mali transferred to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand to end her “boredom and misery.”

Mali came to the Manila Zoo three decades ago as a gift from the Sri Lankan government to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

“We are also studying the quarantine protocol of Thailand for animals like Mali,” Cresencio said.

She said the BAI’s counterpart agency in Thailand had asked them to list down Mali’s diseases.

“If she’s sick, it would not be right to transfer her. We can’t hurry up her transfer. She must be ready,” Cresencio said.

The BAI is the government unit assigned the task of registering animal facilities across the country and investigating and reporting the causes of dangerous communicable diseases of animals and the means to prevent them.

Members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) trooped to the Department of Agriculture on Tuesday to deliver a petition containing the signatures of around 60,000 people from around the world in support of Mali’s transfer.

“Mali has been locked up for 35 painful years,” Peta Asia campaigns manager Rochelle Regodon said in a statement.

According to the group, Mali has been denied of a natural environment that she would be getting in the Thai elephant sanctuary.

Last year, a renowned veterinarian, Dr. Henry Richardson, discovered that Mali was suffering from “potentially fatal foot problems.”

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