Iconic singer and actress Cher is in Pakistan to celebrate the departure of Kaavan, dubbed the “world’s lone elephant,” who, after years of lobbying for animal protection groups and activists, will soon leave Pakistan’s zoo on more favorable terms.
Due to security concerns, Cher’s schedule was not made public. However, he met with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday and is expected to visit Kaavan later in the trip, according to the prime minister’s office. Khan’s office posted a video of the singer sitting outside the vast areas of Khan’s residence with the prime minister.
Kaavan will leave for a shrine in Cambodia on Sunday, said Martin Bauer, a spokesman for Four Paws International, a global animal welfare group that has been leading responsibility for rescuing Kaavan since 2016.
The animal languished in the zoo for 35 years, most of it in chains, and in 2012 it lost its mate. He died after an infection became gangrene and his body lay next to Kaavan for a few days before he was removed, said Dr. Amir Khalil, a veterinarian with four paws. Khalil said Kaavan’s heart was broken after his partner died.
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Activists have named Kaavan “the loneliest elephant in the world” after his difficult situation gained international attention and the unhappy elephant was diagnosed both emotionally and physically.
Khalil has been treating many elephant wounds and diseases for the past three months. Veterinarians have diagnosed Kaavan as overweight and malnourished and also suffer from behavioral problems due to its isolation.
Cher took on Kaavan’s cause and voiced his support for his resettlement. Four Paws, who often perform animal rescue duties, accompany Kaavan to the sanctuary.
In a tweet following his meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Cher said he thanked Khan “for allowing me to take Kaavan to Cambodia”. On Twitter, he wrote that he was making a documentary about Kaavan and said, “I think the documentary will be heartwarming.”
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Even after Kavan’s stay in Cambodia, he will need years of physical and even psychological help, Bauer said.
Due to the horrific living conditions attributable to systemic negligence, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the closure of Marghazar Zoo in the capital of Islamabad, where Kaavan lived most of his life, in May.
A medical examination in September showed that Kaavan’s nails were cracked and overgrown – the result of living in a house with inadequate coverings for years, which damaged her legs.
The elephant’s behavior also developed, shaking his head back and forth for hours, among other things, which caused the medical group of wild veterinarians and experts to be completely bored.
In the past three months, a team of Four Paws, including veterinarian Khalil and the Islamic Wildlife Council, has prepared for Kaavan’s departure.
Khalil first met Kaavan in 2016 and returned to the zoo in August where he was saddened by the animal’s condition. Khalil has been trying to prepare him for his trip to Cambodia for the past three months.
Kaavan lost weight on fruits and vegetables and lost half a ton (450 kilograms), he said. Previously, Kaavan consumed 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of pure cane a day, occasionally fruit and vegetables.
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According to the veterinarian, this was the first time in 30 years that a strong emotional bond had developed with a rescue animal. Now the “loneliest elephant in the world” gets stuck when he hears Khalil’s voice.
“I’ve always been moving, so I never allowed myself to form an emotional attachment,” but Kaavan couldn’t resist, ”Khalil said. He said he had pampered and protected her for the past three months, forced her to lose weight, and was less excited and calmer to be able to make the trip to Cambodia.
Khalil says there are many elephants in the sanctuary, but three female elephants in particular are waiting for Kaavan to arrive. Khalil joked that Kaavan could only find a girlfriend there.
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Bauer praised the huge impact of celebrity voices on animal welfare.
“They always welcome celebrities who turn their voices to good causes as they help start public discourse and put pressure on the responsible authorities,” he said.