COLOMBO, September 16, 2011 (AFP) – An international animal rights group warned Sri Lanka Friday against giving the Philippines a baby elephant, saying the creature would face a â€œlifetime of confinement, boredom and abuseâ€.
The Asian unit of US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote to Sri Lankaâ€™s Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne saying the donation would sentence the elephant to a life of â€œmisery at the Manila Zooâ€.
The plea comes a day after Sri Lanka announced it was marking 50 years of diplomatic relations with the Philippines by giving the Manila Zoo an animal from its state-run elephant orphanage.
Sri Lankaâ€™s acting information minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene told reporters that the cabinet approved the gift after it was proposed by the prime minister.
Referring to the Manila Zoo as a â€œdecrepit facility that has recently come under public scrutinyâ€, PETAâ€™s Manila office said Jayaratneâ€™s move reflected poorly on Sri Lanka.
â€œIf you care about elephants, you would never send one to the Manila Zoo to suffer for the rest of their life,â€ PETA said, adding that the zooâ€™s sole elephant, Mali, spends her days alone in a barren cement enclosure.
â€œI beg you to cancel plans to condemn another elephant to a life of confinement, loneliness, and deprivation at a substandard facility like the Manila Zoo,â€ PETAâ€™s vice-president Jason Baker said.
There was no immediate comment from Jayaratneâ€™s office.
In September the first elephant survey since the end of Sri Lankaâ€™s decades-long war put the countryâ€™s total elephant population at 7,379, of which some 5,879 wild elephants live near wildlife parks and sanctuaries.