The Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden is home to more than 832 animals from nearly 100 species as of 2007. The zoo's most popular resident is Mali, an Asian elephant who arrived at the zoo in 1977 as 3 year old calf transported from Sri Lanka, after being poached from the wild.
The Wildlife Rescue Center serves as temporary shelter and repository for confiscated, donated, retrieved, sick, injured and abandoned wildlife species.The Wildlife Rescue Center has been the subject of public scrutiny in regard to their animal welfare standards.
The Manila zoo by law must operate in accordance to the Animal Welfare Act of 1998 (also known as Republic Act 8485). The purpose of the Act is to ensure that all terrestrial, aquatic and marine animals in the Philippines have their physical and psychological needs met in ways that promote well-being. Inquiries have been made into the compliance of the Manila Zoo with this Act.
The zoo has been criticized due to its inadequate animal care and dirty surroundings. The zoo is responding with efforts to make the animal habitats as comfortable and natural as possible, such as by adding trees and vegetation, and expanding the enclosures.
Mali is the only Elephant in the Manila zoo, and in fact the only Elephant in the Philippines, and she is the subject of a campaign from animal rights organization, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). A report issued by PETA  points out the numerous issues regarding Mali being kept in captivity.