Iconic singer and actress Cher is in Pakistan to celebrate the departure of Kaavan, dubbed ‘the loneliest elephant in the world’, who will soon leave a Pakistani zoo for better conditions after years of lobbying by animal rights groups and activists.
For security reasons, Cher’s schedule has not been made public. However, she met Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday and was due to visit Kaavan later in the trip, according to the prime minister’s office. Khan’s office released a video of the singer sitting with the Prime Minister outside on the vast grounds of Khan’s residence.
Kaavan is expected to leave for a sanctuary in Cambodia on Sunday, said Martin Bauer, spokesperson for Four Paws International, a global animal welfare group that has led the charge to save Kaavan since 2016.
The animal has languished in the zoo for 35 years, most of those years in chains, and lost her partner in 2012. She died after an infection turned gangrenous and her body lay next to Kaavan for several days before d ‘to be removed, said Dr Amir Khalil. , veterinarian on all fours. Khalil said Kaavan was heartbroken after the death of his partner.
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Campaigners dubbed Kaavan “the loneliest elephant in the world” after his plight gained international attention and the unfortunate elephant was diagnosed as emotionally and physically damaged.
Khalil has treated the elephant’s many wounds and ailments over the past three months. Kaavan has been diagnosed by vets as both overweight and undernourished, and also suffers from behavioral issues due to his isolation.
Cher took up Kaavan’s cause and was a strong voice for his resettlement. Four Paws, who often performs animal rescue missions, will accompany Kaavan to the shrine.
In a tweet following her meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Cher said she thanked Khan “for allowing me to take Kaavan to Cambodia”. She tweeted that she was making a documentary about Kaavan and said, “I think the documentary will be heartwarming.”
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Even after arriving in Cambodia, Kaavan will need years of physical and even psychological assistance, Bauer said.
Due to appalling living conditions attributed to systemic neglect, Pakistan’s High Court in May ordered the closure of Marghazar Zoo in the capital of Islamabad, where Kaavan has lived much of his life.
A medical examination in September showed Kaavan’s fingernails to be cracked and overgrown – the result of years of living in an inappropriate enclosure with soil damaging his feet.
The elephant also developed behaviors, including shaking its head for hours on end, which the medical team of vets and wildlife experts blamed on its utter boredom.
Over the past three months, a team of Four Paws, including veterinarian Khalil and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board, are preparing Kaavan to leave.
Khalil first met Kaavan in 2016 and returned to the zoo in August, where he was saddened by the animal’s condition. Khalil has spent the past three months trying to prepare him for his trip to Cambodia.
Kaavan was put on a fruit and vegetable diet and lost half a ton (450 kilograms), he said. Previously, Kaavan ate 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of pure sugar cane every day, sometimes with fruits and vegetables.
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The vet said it was the first time in 30 years that he had developed a strong emotional bond with a rescue animal. Now, “the loneliest elephant in the world” arrives upon hearing Khalil’s voice.
“I was always on the move, so I never allowed myself to develop an emotional attachment,” but with Kaavan, he couldn’t resist, Khalil said. He said he had pampered and protected him for the past three months, coaxing him to lose weight while being less restless and more relaxed so he could make the trip to Cambodia.
Khalil said there are many elephants in the sanctuary, but in particular three female elephants are awaiting Kaavan’s arrival. Khalil joked that Kaavan might just find a girlfriend there.
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Bauer praised the powerful impact celebrity voices can have on animal rights.
“Celebrities who lend their voices to good causes are always welcome, as they help launch a public discourse and put pressure on the responsible authorities,” he said.