World’s saddest elephant Mali dies alone aged 43 after solitary life in rotten zoo following kidnap by dictator | The Sun

AN elephant dubbed by activists as the world's saddest has died at a Philippine zoo where she spent almost all of her life alone.

Vishwamali, better known as Mali to locals, has spent over four decades at Manila Zoo after being kidnapped by the country's dictator and gifted to his wife.

She was just three years old when she arrived in the capital Manila from Sri Lanka in 1977 as a gift to Imelda Marcos, the notorious shoe-loving wife of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Mali was the last surviving elephant at the zoo after her companion Shiva died in 1990.

The Asian elephant was dubbed as one of the "world's saddest" by the non-government organisation People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The country's only jumbo has tragically died of congestive heart failure on November 28 at the age of 43.

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Mali's death was announced on Tuesday in a Facebook video tribute by Manila mayor Honey Lacuna.

She said that visits to the zoo to see the elephant were among her happiest childhood memories.

"It saddens me because she was part of our lives," Lacuna added.

Mali had spent close to half a century in solitude in the grubby enclosure.

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Footage taken hours before she died shows her using the last of her energy to greet children and their parents who visited her at the Manila Zoo on November 27.

Mali's body was taken for necropsy to find more details on her death.

Officials said that aside from heart failure, she also suffered from cancer and restricted blood circulation.

Her uterus also had pus deposits, while her kidneys were slightly inflamed.

An official from the Manila Zoo said: "The death of Mali was sudden.

"Among animals, there's something that we call asymptomatic symptoms, where she could have been experiencing an illness that we could not observe.

"Animals are not like people who can talk or be asked about their condition."

PETA accused the zoo and the government of ignoring Mali's "clearly painful foot problems" and sentencing her to decades of torturous "solitary confinement".

Animal rights activists have long sounded the alarm over Mali's well-being.

The legendary Beatles' bass guitarist, Sir Paul McCartney, was among the campaigners who asked authorities to transfer the poor animal to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.

But the appeals were rejected with officials at the time saying the elephant was best kept in captivity as she had now known life in the wild.

Then-mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said: "It might not be ideal to bring her back to the wild because she grew up in that environment.

"Maybe it's more harmful to transport her. We will give the best services for her."

After her death, animal rights group PETA said in a statement: "Because of indifference and greed, Mali the elephant died the same way she had lived for nearly 50 years: alone in a concrete pen at the Manila Zoo."

But the mayor said that Mali's long-time caregivers had been crying over her death and have been her family.

"She might seem alone, but she had us beside her.

"She was the face that greeted everyone who visited Manila Zoo."

She is a part of our lives," she added.

Asian elephants are social animals that live in herds of up to 100 individuals.

They are currently endangered, with only an estimated 48,000 to 51,680 individuals left in the wild.

The main threats to Asian elephants are habitat loss, poaching, and conflict with humans.

Wild elephants can live up to 60 to 70 years, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Social media users expressed sadness over Mali's death, while also criticising the zoo and government officials for refusing to send her to an animal sanctuary.

"No more small enclosure for you. Run free Mali," Lemuel Bueno posted on Facebook.

Another user said: "They killed her long before her physical death".

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Lacuna said the government would take Sri Lankan officials up on an offer to replace Mali when she died.

Mali's skeleton would eventually be displayed at the zoo museum, she added.

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