Heaven knows she's a miserable elephant now...

Morrissey leads outcry over animal confined to cramped enclosure in Manila Zoo for 35 years creates international

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The Independent Online

The plight of an elderly elephant, said to be profoundly lonely after 35 years in Manila Zoo, has spurred calls from an unlikely coalition of pop stars, bishops and a Nobel laureate for her to spend her final days in comfort.

Mali arrived in the Philippines when she was three, a gift from the Sri Lankan government. She has spent her entire adult life without the company of another elephant, and is housed in a cramped and insanitary enclosure.

"She is definitely unwell," Rochelle Rigodon, local campaigner for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) told Agence France-Presse. "As much as her physical suffering… there is also psychological suffering."

The British singer, Morrissey, who performed in Manila earlier this year, is among those who have written to President Benigno Aquino, urging him to send Mali to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.

"Mali is cruelly denied stimulation, room to explore… [and] is in danger of going insane," he said. Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the country's Catholic Bishops Conference, has also written to the government, urging it to move Mali to Thailand, while local actresses and fashion models have posted messages about the elephant's plight on Twitter.

However, Manila authorities say Mali is the star attraction of the zoo. The zoo's chief vet, Donald Manalastas, denies that she and other animals are treated poorly, pointing to her advanced age and that of another 38-year-old resident, a hippopotamus called Berta.

"If we were not giving them the right food, the proper care, they would not survive," Mr Manalastas said. "We must be doing something right."

Mali spends her days in her concrete-floored enclosure, eating peanuts offered by children and being hosed down by her keepers.

Peta has been campaigning for seven years to have her moved. Its efforts are now backed by the animal welfare campaigner, Jane Goodall, and the Nobel prize-winning author, JM Coetzee.

Mr Aquino has ordered an inquiry into Mali's situation, but the mayor of Manila, Alfredo Lim, has rejected calls for her to be moved.