Sanctuary for Mali

May 3, 2015



There is a mantra I use when i get overwhelmed “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”

Alter that a little. How do you SAVE an elephant? $5 at a time.”

I have been sitting on this idea for a while. I have always been fascinated with the idea of “Sanctuary”, any human in trouble can knock on a church door and be safe from whatever evil lurks outside.

Yesterday I met with a dear friend, Pedro, and this idea I had picked up some serious momentum.

It’s been 60 days since I heard about Mali…I have been plotting and planning ever since. My friend John has been crucial in the process, confirming that she still is in the Manila Zoo, having my back and pushing me to research research research.

I have been given a voice and an audience with the success of my blog and Facebook page.

Time to use this little bit of influence and power for good.

I run the risk of y’all getting sick of me as we forge ahead, single minded. But the more you share, the bigger this gets and the faster we enact some change up in here.


When I was little, my grandparents had a beautiful house in East Lansing Michigan.
It was my happy place.

Across the street lived a typical family, couple of kids, couple of dogs.

They had, to the best of my recollection, 2 poodles and a Doberman that lived IN the house. Out back, they had a sheepdog named Sheba.

Sheba lived in a 10×10 pen with a doghouse. Winter, summer, rain or shine. I remember asking my grandpa one day why she had to stay outside when the other dogs lived inside, “I don’t know Punky” was all he said.

Every day, twice a day my grandpa would walk across the street, and feed and water Sheba. I would go with him. I liked her better the 2 times a year when they would have her shaved down, she looked like a Muppet and didn’t smell as bad. But I always loved her, big brown eyes, always happy to see us. My hands fit through the chain link and I would scratch her nose. My grandpa loved her so I did too.

Twice a year she would get knocked up, and twice a year she would break out and find refuge at my grandparent’s house, once having her babies under the car in the middle of a snowstorm.

I showed up for a visit once, and we didn’t go see Sheba, of course I asked why, “she’s gone Punky”. I remember deciding she went to live with a nice family who let her inside and loved her. The truth is she had a shitty life. But twice a day, she felt cared for.

This set my internal bar for how I treat animals. And upon further pondering, I realized he showed me the power of one person alleviating the suffering of one other being. You can’t change the whole world, but you can change pieces of it.

There is so much evil in the world, I can’t take it. None of us can, we all cope in different ways. Shutting it out seems popular, getting overwhelmed to the point of paralysis is also a common coping mechanism.

I saw the picture of Mali the elephant holding her own tail, and my heart broke for the millionth time. It breaks every day.

The story is this. At age 4 Mali was captured in the wild and shipped to a zoo in Manila. She lives in a concrete pen. She has not seen another elephant in 33 years. Her health is failing. She needs out of there, onto grass and around other elephants.

She has been in prison for 33 years.

The family structure and bonding of elephants is stronger than ours, by a lot a lot. Female elephants live out their entire lives in the herd they are born into. They have babies and help each other raise them. They have been known to bury and mourn their dead. In the eyes of many they are sentient beings, like us, they feel emotion and are self-aware.

My first thought was ‘research’. Is she even still there? Is this real or another outdated Facebook heartstring puller? I did one better, had my friend John confirm when he was in Manila.

She is alive, and there.

I can’t fly to the Philippines twice a day to give her food and water, nor am I an elephant, which is what she really needs, the company of other elephants.

Second thought, sign the petition. I did, and one better I shared it on my Facebook page.

But then I did more research. Half a million signatures over 3 years, a secured verified place to put her, Sir Paul McCartney on board. Why is she still on concrete and alone?

Third thought. This is a hostage situation. Everything has a price right?

I managed to raise $1400 in 7 days for a friend in trouble from a collective pool of 500 people on social media. My Facebook page is about to hit 12K and I have access to 500K more if I ask nicely. I started formulating a plan. I am going to buy this elephant and relocated her my damn self.

Brilliant plan right?

In theory, but in theory communism works.

I did more research, at the behest of John. One thing I read (written by PETA) was, ‘if we buy her what is to stop the zoo from using the money to buy more animals’. Good point.

I extrapolated with the help of Aaron Sorkin. One of my favorite shows of all time is Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. There was a plotline involving a hostage situation. One of the lines that rang true was a Sergeant saying “do you know what the going rate for a hostage is in South America? $300 000. It used to be $100 000 until one day someone asked for 300K they paid it, and now that is the going rate.” I am paraphrasing.


I know I can raise the money. There was never a doubt in my mind, and now I have help. What if I buy this elephant and then, less fortunate countries get this idea that they can hold elephants hostage? The white ladies will pay…whole new problem.

Scrap that plan.

Give me a corner, I will think around it and draw you a map.

I have the blessing/curse of seeing all sides, always.

God bless PETA, but they are trying to instill western philosophical guilt on an eastern country more concerned with pride than the welfare of an animal.

And honestly kids, so is their right, both PETA and the Agricultural Department of the Philippines.

This is another culture we are speaking of, halfway around the world. It is pompous and vain to impose our values on them. We did that when we came to North America, look how that worked out for the people who called this continent home for a millennia. Not so good.

So, what to do?

I am still going to raise money and petition the Philippine government. To build an elephant sanctuary, in the Philippines, and to retire Mali there along with any other elephant in the country.

Save Mali and save even more elephants.

I would like to live in a world that sees animals as something to be cherished, cared for and respected.

But until we get there, we can change one thing at a time.

Share this post, often. as many places as you can. tumblr, reddit, tweet it, keep it rolling.

Sign the PETA petition.

I’m starting the gofundme with $500 out of my pocket.

Donate what you can, $5 bucks adds up fast, and with that we can change the world for one lonely elephant.







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