File photo of Ma'ali was taken by Ly Cabochan/DTCAM at the Manila Zoo.

Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna said Wednesday in a press conference that Vishwamali, popularly known as Ma’ali, the Philippines’ only elephant, died on November 28 at 3:45 p.m. at the Manila Zoo in Malate.

Ma’ali’s cause of death appeared to be congestive heart failure and the malfunction of multiple organs.

She explained that, in contrast to claims stating the 43-year-old elephant was presented to Manila in 1977, she said that the actual year of the gift from the Sri Lankan government was 1981.

“Si Ma’ali ang nag-iisang elephant dito sa Pilipinas, and siya na yong pinaka matagal na nabuhay na elephant sa atin,” Mayor Llacuna said.

Manila Zoo Chief Veterinarian Dr. Heinrich Patrick Peña-Domingo said Ma’ali’s death may have been due to heart failure based on the result of the necropsy conducted.

Domingo claimed that on Friday, November 24, Ma’ali became “irritable” and her caregivers noticed her moving around as if she were feeling unwell. By Saturday, she had lost her appetite and was observed rubbing her trunk against the wall.

“Nawalan siya ng gana kumain. Pagdating ng Monday (November 27) afternoon, kumain pa siya, na consume niya yong diet niya [at] uminom pa siya ng maraming tubig,” he said. But on Tuesday, Ma’ali assumed “lateral recumbency,” or being unable to rise from lying on her sides.

He said that necropsy findings also revealed Ma’ali had cancer nodules in her pancreas due to old age.

“Nakita namin, yong kanyang aorta, yong tubo palabas ng kanyang puso, ito ay may makapal na taba. Maaari na yon ang cause ng pagkamatay niya, yong congestive heart failure,” he said.

Previous calls have been made to send Ma’ali back to her natural habitat; nonetheless, Llacuna explained that due to her arrival at the age of only 11 months, she has spent an extended period in captivity, making such a move unfavorable.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.