PRISON versus SANCTUARY
Manila Zoo’s most outspoken opponents, perhaps, are members of the international organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Its activists have continued to protest Manila Zoo’s expansion and upkeep, on the basis that animals need to be kept in their natural habitat. In 2007, then Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim called PETA’S claims unwarranted, and asserted that the “utmost care is being provided to these animals,” according to a news article from GMA News TV. In 2009, PETA likened zoos to prisons, and again asked zoo visitors to boycott Manila Zoo. After a blogger posted photos of the decrepit state of Manila Zoo in 2011, PETA criticized the allotment of government funds to the imprisonment of animals. Most notably, in 2012, PETA called for the transfer of Manila Zoo’s only elephant, Mali, to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. Mali has lived in Manila Zoo since she was donated by the Sri Lankan government to former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1977. Dubbed “the world’s loneliest elephant,” Mali is still a resident of Manila Zoo, after PETA’S pleas -- with the support of institutions such as the World Society for the Protection of Animals and figures such as Dr. Jane Goodall -- fell on deaf ears.
Visitors take part in the Ostrich enrichment activity