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Philippines: 'Free elephant,' Morrissey asks President Aquino ahead of Manila concert (VIDEO)

Pop icon Morrissey says Mali the Manila Zoo's Asian elephant deserves to retire at a sanctuary after a lifetime in captivity.
Morrissey elephant philippines 2012 05 10Enlarge
Children flock around the enclosure of 37-year-old elephant Mali at the Manila Zoo on May 10, 2012. Rock icon Morrissey called on Philippine President Benigno Aquino on May 10, ahead of a Manila concert, to send what the star described as Manila Zoo's long-suffering elephant into retirement. (JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Morrissey, ahead of a concert in the Philippines, has asked President Benigno Aquino to free an elephant at the Manila Zoo.

The British pop icon said Mali the Asian elephant deserved to retire at a sanctuary after spending a lifetime in a cramped enclosure.

"I ask that you send Mali to a sanctuary, where she would have room to roam and be able to be among other members of her own species," Morrissey wrote, according to Agence France-Presse.

"Her life consists of extreme loneliness, boredom and isolation in an area that is a fraction of the size of her natural habitat," he said in a letter to the president.

The former Smiths frontman is playing a May 13 concert in Manila while on a tour of Asia.

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which Morrissey supports, has previously documented the case of Mali the elephant, and conditions at the Manila Zoo.

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PETA wrote that Mali was torn away from her mother at age 3, and shipped off for a life in captivity. 

"For more than 30 years, Mali has spent her days alone in a barren enclosure with only a small pool for entertainment and relief from the heat," the group claimed. "Mali paces her small area incessantly or stands in one spot with her trunk to the ground." 

The Manila Zoo's chief veterinarian told AFP that the elephant was donated by Sri Lanka in 1980 after her parents were killed by poachers.

According to GMA News, the Philippine president's office is looking into Morrissey's request.

Abigail Valte, a spokesperson for the president, said the letter was received Wednesday and "is being evaluated." 

Morrissey, who is in Jakarta ahead of a Thursday concert, also called on Indonesia to shut down a notorious zoo in eastern Java.

"Your ministry called for a change at the Surabaya Zoo, but no improvements have been made," he wrote in a letter to the Indonesian government.

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In an interview last month with the Philippine Star, Morrissey spoke of his role as an animal rights activist.

“I think we have so much to learn from the animal kingdom," he said. "Instead, they are shot and gassed and farmed and eaten, and only humans do this to them! Animals don’t start wars or destroy the planet or create cancers or pollute or over-populate."

Morrissey's statements on animal rights have on several occasions gotten him into trouble.

Last year he said that the massacre Norway, in which 69 people were killed, many of them teenagers at a youth camp, is "nothing compared" to what happens to animals killed for fast-food chains.

He also said last year that hunting is “a moral issue. Killing a stag is like killing a child. What's the difference?"

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