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S. Lanka warned against giving elephant to Philippines

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 "lifetime of confinement, boredom and abuse".

The Asian unit of US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote to Sri Lanka's Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne saying the donation would sentence the elephant to a life of "misery at the Manila Zoo".

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 Lanka'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 "decrepit facility that has recently come under public scrutiny", PETA's Manila office said Jayaratne's move reflected poorly on Sri Lanka.

"If you care about elephants, you would never send one to the Manila Zoo to suffer for the rest of their life," PETA said, adding that the zoo's sole elephant, Mali, spends her days alone in a barren cement enclosure.

"I 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," PETA's vice-president Jason Baker said.

There was no immediate comment from Jayaratne's office.

In September the first elephant survey since the end of Sri Lanka's decades-long war put the country's total elephant population at 7,379, of which some 5,879 wild elephants live near wildlife parks and sanctuaries.


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