Mali (elephant)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mali in 2018
SpeciesElephas maximus
BornVishwa Ma'ali[a]
Sri Lanka
Died (aged 43‍–‍49)
Manila, Philippines
Known forAnimal exhibit at the Manila Zoo

Vishwa Ma'ali[a] (locally [bɪʃwɐˈmali]; d. November 28, 2023), commonly known as Mali (/ˈmɑːli/ ; locally [ˈmali]), was a female Asian elephant who lived at Manila Zoo in Manila, Philippines. Born in Sri Lanka, she was given as a gift to First Lady Imelda Marcos by the Sri Lankan government in 1981 and lived at Manila Zoo from then on. For most of her life, she was the only elephant in the Philippines and was a subject of concern for animal welfare advocates. She was described as the world's "saddest" elephant.[5]

Early life[edit]

Vishwa Ma'ali[a], nicknamed Mali, was born in Sri Lanka. Mali was a female Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).[1] Her exact birth date is unknown.[b]

She was moved into the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage after her mother died of natural causes.[6] When Mali was three years old[c], the Sri Lankan government gifted the elephant to then Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos.[7] The elephant was presented at Malacañang Palace prior to her transfer to Manila Zoo.[6]

Captivity at Manila Zoo[edit]

Mali in 2009

When Mali was moved to Manila Zoo, she was placed in an enclosure with another female elephant named Shiva. Shiva, who had been rescued from a circus, was territorial and behaved aggressively towards Mali. Following Shiva's death in 1990, Mali was able to roam around her enclosure more freely.[6]

Treatment and condition[edit]

A photo of Mali the elephant in Manila Zoo.
Mali in 2023

Mali's condition was a subject of concern by various animal welfare groups and was commonly called the world's 'saddest' elephant.[5]

Mali was part of a campaign led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) alleging the elephant was subject to neglect and was urging the release of the elephant. PETA campaigned for the move of Mali to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, but there were concerns that the elephant might not be able to adapt to a new environment if moved out of the Manila Zoo.[8] PETA alternatively had proposed that Mali be moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in the United States.[1] The Network for Animals (NFA), which maintains a stance against zoos in general, made an exception for Mali. Despite its stance, the NFA expressed in 2018 that Manila Zoo was "the best option" in Mali's case.[9]

There were also contrary reports which suggested Mali was healthy. In 2013, Mali underwent a checkup in a lead-up to a potential transfer to Thailand. Nikorn Thongtip of Kasetsart University remarked that Mali was "healthy in every system" although she exhibited "a little bit of obesity". Thongtip remarked that the elephant's nails "do not look bad, compared to elephants of the same age". Although Thongtip said that Mali had to be tested for tuberculosis, before she could be moved to Thailand.[6] In 2018, results of blood tests conducted on Mali, suggested the elephant was healthy, although the animal was still remarked to be overweight and was on a diet plan.[9]


On November 28, 2023, Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna announced that Mali had died at around 3:45 p.m. (PHT) that day.[10] The following day, the necropsy result was announced. She died of congestive heart failure and had other health issues: nodules around her liver, a slightly inflamed kidney, a neoplastic pancreas, and a clogged aorta.[11]

The Manila city government announced plans to preserve Mali's remains and display them in a museum. Initially, there was consideration of requesting a replacement elephant from the Sri Lankan government, but this was later abandoned when a letter was sent to inform them of Mali's passing.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Alternatively spelled as Vishwamali
  2. ^ a b Mali's exact age is uncertain; reportedly born as early as 1974[1][2] to as late as 1980.[3][4]
  3. ^ 1977, if following the 1974 birth date.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Legaspi, Amita (May 16, 2012). "Malacañang responds to Morrissey elephant appeal, tasks experts to check on Mali". GMA News. Archived from the original on June 6, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  2. ^ Villeza, Mark Ernest (November 29, 2023). "Mali, Philippines beloved elephant, dies". The Philippine Star. Retrieved December 2, 2023.
  3. ^ DeLetter, Emily (November 30, 2023). "Mali, dubbed the 'world's saddest elephant,' dies at Manila Zoo after decades in captivity". USA Today. Retrieved December 2, 2023. Mali, an elephant living in captivity at the Manila Zoo in the Philippines and dubbed by advocates as the "world's saddest elephant," has died at 43 years old
  4. ^ "Manila Zoo's lone elephant Mali dies". Rappler. November 28, 2023. Retrieved December 2, 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Philippines: World's 'saddest' elephant dies in Manila zoo". November 29, 2023. Archived from the original on November 29, 2023. Retrieved November 29, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d Lagman, Maxine Louise (April 1, 2019). "Mali, the Sri Lankan elephant". Animal Scene. Archived from the original on June 6, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  7. ^ Yap, D.J. (June 30, 2013). "'Mali' in pink of health, says elephant expert from Thailand". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on June 7, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  8. ^ Felongco, Gilbert (June 30, 2019). "Manila zoo's jumbo-sized poser: What to do with Mali the Elephant?". Gulf News. Archived from the original on June 6, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Limos, Mario Alvaro (July 27, 2020). "The Interesting Story of Mali, the Philippines' Only Elephant". Esquire. Archived from the original on June 6, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  10. ^ Adel, Rosette (November 28, 2023). "Mali, resident elephant at Manila Zoo, dies". The Philippine Star. Archived from the original on November 28, 2023. Retrieved November 28, 2023.
  11. ^ Bosano, Raphael (November 29, 2023). "Expert: Mali, PH's lone elephant, died of congestive heart failure". ABS-CBN News. Archived from the original on November 29, 2023. Retrieved November 29, 2023.
  12. ^ "Manila City gov't to ask Sri Lanka for new elephant after Mali's death". Rappler. November 29, 2023. Retrieved December 2, 2023.
  13. ^ "Manila not asking Sri Lanka to replace elephant Mali". ABS-CBN News. January 9, 2024. Retrieved January 9, 2024.