J.M. Coetzee has become the latest high-profile person to throw his support behind People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia’s campaign to have Mali—an ailing and solitary 38-year-old elephant who is currently wasting away in the Manila Zoo—transferred to a reputable sanctuary in Thailand.
“I am writing in support of the campaign to remove the elephant Mali from the zoo in Manila where she has spent the past 35 years, to a place of safety,” writes Coetzee in a letter to the Philippine department of agriculture. “Thirty-five years is a heavy sentence to bear, longer than is served by most murderers. Mali has paid the penalty for not being fortunate enough to be born human. Now it is time to release her.”
Coetzee’s work has garnered him the highest praise. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003 and the coveted Booker Prize in both 1983 and 1999. Among his numerous acclaimed works are Waiting for the Barbarians, The Lives of Animals, Elizabeth Costello, Diary of a Bad Year, and Summertime. Coetzee was born in South Africa but is now a citizen of Australia and lives in Adelaide.
In her current environment, Mali is cruelly denied socialization, stimulation, room to explore, and everything else that is natural and important to her. She endures intense confinement, loneliness, boredom, and isolation in an area a tiny fraction of the size of her natural habitat.
A growing number of elephant experts—including world-renowned elephant veterinarian Dr. Henry Richardson, who just last month determined that Mali suffers from potentially fatal foot problems—are calling for Mali’s transfer to a sanctuary where she can live out her days in good health and dignity as well as in the crucial company of other elephants. In addition, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has issued a directive to relocate Mali to a sanctuary.