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Free Mali: The World’s Loneliest Elephant Locked Away in a Philippine Zoo for Almost 40 Years

Apr 18, 2017 01:19 PM EDT
Asian Elephant
Elephants are naturally intelligent social creatures, but Mali is being held in deplorable and isolated conditions in Philippines' Manila Zoo.
(Photo : Joern Pollex/Getty Images)

Imagine being trapped in a tiny room all your life, completely isolated and never being able to run free, play with other children or even socialize with fellow humans. Such is the life of Mali, a lonely elephant who has been trapped in an enclosure in Manila Zoo in the Philippines since 1997.

According to Free Mali, she was captured in Sri Lanka when she was just a nursing baby. That was 40 years ago. Since then, the majestic creature has spent her days in a cramped cage within a zoo that's only a total of 0.055 square kilometers. Mali hasn't even seen another elephant in over 30 years.

There are a few balls, a tire, running water and some paintings of trees in Mali's enclosure, a report from The Dodo said. But that's it.

A post shared by @gardenjos on Apr 12, 2017 at 9:19am PDT

"In a truly heartbreaking display of the impact the Manila Zoo has had on Mali, she's been observed walking to the edge of her pen and reaching out her foot in the hope of taking one more step," PETA Asia vice president Jason Baker shared. "When she realizes that she has reached the end, Mali steps back and tries again ... and again. Finally realizing that there is nowhere to go, a dejected Mali walks aimlessly around her enclosure, picking debris off the ground."

Others have observed that she even holds her own tail with her trunk due to extreme loneliness. Elephants are very social and intelligent creatures by nature.

Besides lacking the space, socialization and stimulation in Manila Zoo, Mali's health has also been painfully neglected by the zoo. In a medical examination conducted by elephant expert Dr Henry Richardson in 2012, it was revealed that the elephant suffers from chronic pressure sores and potentially fatal foot ailments.

Find out more about Mali and how to help her at Free Mali.

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