Mali, the 'world's saddest elephant', has died after living almost her entire life alone
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: Ezra Acayan/James D. Morgan/Getty Images
Mali, known on the internet for being the 'world's saddest elephant,' has died.
Mali was born in Sri Lanka at some point between 1974 and 1980.
She was orphaned at a very young age after her mother died of natural causes.
In Mali's earliest years, she lived at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a captive breeding and conservation institute in Kegalle, Sri Lanka.
However, this instiution faced controversy for keeping its elephants in very poor conditions, and was eventually shut down - which is where Mali's luck then went from bad to worse.
After leaving Pinnawala, she was gifted by the Sri Lankan government to the then-First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos.
Mali was one of two elephant 'pets,' alongside a much older animal named Shiba.
Shiba did not take kindly to Mali, leading to troubles between the two.
“Mali was scared in the beginning,” former Manila Zoo foreman Marcelino Tasiong told Animal Scene in 2019.
“When she joined Shiba, the latter was caught off guard, and hit her.”
But following Shiba's passing in 1990, things again got worse for Mali.
She was left alone for the rest of her life.
Mali's plight attracted the attention of Beatle (and animal rights activist) Paul McCartney.
“I was shocked to learn that Mali has never even received proper preventive foot care,” wrote Paul McCartney in a 2013 letter to then-president of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III.
“Foot and joint problems are the leading cause of death among captive elephants kept on hard surfaces and when this type of care is something that every reputable zoo in the world offers.”
Tragically, there was no happy ending to Mali's story.
She passed away in captivity this week,
The cause of death was congestive heart failure, according to Manila Zoo Chief Veterinarian Heinrich Patrick Peña-Domingo.
She also had inflammation in the kidneys, nodules around her liver, and 'pus deposits' around her uterus, he told the press.
Mali was seen in visible pain earlier in the week, and was treated by vets with antihistamines and vitamins, but it was not enough to save her.
PETA has since spoken out about Mali's passing.
“Female elephants… in nature spend their lives among their mothers and sisters, protecting one another and raising each other’s calves,” they said.
“Now [Mali] has lost any chance of happiness.”
Mali died at the age of under 50 - significantly shorter than a natural elephant life span.
Rest in peace.