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‘world’s loneliest elephant’ gets friends: Leaves Pakistan

Kaavan the elephant has spent the last 35 years in Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan, but he’s now moving to a brand new home in Cambodia.

Described as the “world’s loneliest elephant”, Kaavan has entertained crowds at the zoo for over three decades.

The elephant was first brought to Pakistan in 1985 as a gift from Sri Lanka when he was just 1. Like many other animals in captivity, Kaavan has been poorly treated at the hands of the people who look after him.

His handlers poked him with bull hooks – rods with sharp hooks on the end – forcing him to perform for the zoo’s visitors. He was also kept in chains which have left permanent scars on his legs and has suffered from obesity and issues with his mental health.

It isn’t just the way Kavaan was treated by his handlers that raised concerns. The lack of medical facilities at the zoo were also highlighted as a big issue.

“There is no veterinary facility, and no medicine supplies in the zoo,” said Mohammad bin Naveed who is a volunteer working with the organisation Friends of Islamabad Zoo (FIZ). “There’s no animal health facility here; there is no room where a surgery can be performed, and no space where a sick animal can be kept in isolation.”

Kaavan’s companion elephant Saheli lived with him in Marghazar Zoo from 1990, but she’s believed to have died of an infection in 2012. Kaavan was left alone in his enclosure.

Activists from all around the world have been campaigning for Kaavan’s release and pop star Cher, who runs a wildlife protection charity called Free The Wild, has also been working to see Kaavan set free from his poor conditions at the zoo since 2016.

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The High Court in Pakistan declared the elephant free in May earlier this year and Marghazar Zoo was ordered to close for good soon after.

Cher helped raise funds for a new enclosure to be built for Kaavan in Cambodia where he’ll live in better conditions and she recently met with the Pakinstani Prime Minster Imran Khan ahead of Kaavan’s release.

“Just came from meeting to thank Prime Minister Imran Kahn for making it possible for me to take Kaavan to Cambodia,” she tweeted. Cher also announced a documentary about the elephant’s journey to freedom would be released next year.

Kaavan, who weighs a whopping five-and-a-half tonnes, is being flown out to the sanctuary in Cambodia on 29 November where he’ll live the rest of his life with other elephant friends.

Leaves Pakistan for Retirement in Cambodia

Kaavan’s case and the woeful conditions at the zoo resulted in a judge this year ordering all the animals to be moved.

Following years of public outcry and campaigning by American pop star Cher, the “world’s loneliest elephant” embarked Sunday on a mammoth move from Pakistan to retirement in a Cambodian sanctuary.

The famed singer and Oscar-winning actress has spent recent days at the Islamabad zoo to provide moral support to Kaavan — an overweight, 36-year-old bull elephant — whose pitiful treatment at the dilapidated facility sparked an uproar from animal rights groups and a spirited social media campaign by Cher.


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