Siem Reap, Cambodia, Nov 30 – Superstar Cher welcomed “the world’s loneliest elephant” to Cambodia Monday to begin a new life at a specialised sanctuary after the creature was rescued from grim conditions in a Pakistani zoo.
The plight of Kaavan — a 36-year-old bull elephant at Islamabad’s dilapidated zoo and originally from Sri Lanka — sparked global uproar from animal rights groups, who launched a campaign to save him.
His cause was boosted by spirited social media support from actress and musician Cher, who travelled to see him off from Pakistan and then to Cambodia to welcome him to his new home.
In 2016, Cher came to know about the heart-wrenching story of Kaavan and ever since then she has been instrumental in driving a massive social media campaign to relocate him. She along with Free The Wild have been advocating for his relocation for quite some time now. They had also raised concerns about the zoo’s deteriorated state that was causing even more dismay to the elephant’s well-being. Earlier this year, Islamabad’s High Court released an order to close the zoo over its depreciated condition and allowed animal welfare organisation Four Paws to relocate Kaavan.
According to a report by The Hollywood Reporter, Cher said, “I found out about Kaavan from the people on my Twitter… They would not stop saying ‘Cher, you have to do something, you have to fix this, you have to save him.’ I thought about how I could fix this? How can I save an elephant who’s been shackled to a shed for 17 years and who is a thousand miles away? This is Free the Wild’s first big rescue, and I am so proud. We are thrilled to partner with the Smithsonian Channel who will be helping to bring our story to the world.”
Kaavan has now reached the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary where he was welcomed with a cake that read, “Welcome Kaavan.” The sanctuary has been preparing for weeks to receiving Kaavan and is all set to make him feel at home. Not just that, Kaavan now has a lot of open space to play around and mingle with fellow friendly neighbour elephants to enjoy his new life.