Human Interest

Cher arrives in Pakistan to free elephant Kaavan from zoo

Islamabad, Nov 27 (efe-epa).- United States-based singer and actor Cher on Friday arrived in Pakistan to free an elephant from a zoo in islamabad, where it has spent 35 years in captivity, and get him transfered to a sanctuary in Cambodia after an intensive campaign that caught international attention.

“Just Came From Meeting To Thank Prime Minister Imran Khan For Making It Possible For Me To Take Kaavan To Cambodia,” Cher tweeted on Friday.

The artist said Kaavan would travel to Cambodia on Sunday, where it would be released in a sanctuary, following an international campaign led by Cher’s nonprofit Free the Wild and another NGO Four Paws International.

The 37-yer-old elephant has spent 35 years of its life in a zoo in the Pakistani capital, many of them under chains and alone since the death of his companion Saheli in 2012, which has resulted in depression and other mental issues for the animal.

Khan thanked Cher for her campaign to free the animal.

“Appreciating her efforts in retiring Kaavan to an elephant sanctuary, the Prime Minister thanked Cher for her campaign and role in this regard,” an official statement said.

The elephant’s fate has been hanging in the balance for many years.

In 2016 the Pakistani parliament recommended that the animal, given as an official present by the Sri Lankan government in 1986, should be released in a sanctuary due to its bad state, but the step was never carried out.

However, animal rights activists soon launched a campaign to free the pachyderm that has finally paid off.

The elephant’s transfer is a difficult process that began months in advance and includes rehabilitation of the animal with the help of Frank Sinatra’s music – in order to make it relaxed – and a strict diet to tackle obesity.

Subsequently, in recent weeks Four Paws member Ingo Schmidinger has trained the animal to get it accustomed to a container that will carry it during the seven-hour journey in a private jet between Islamabad and Phnom Penh.

Once it arrives at the Cambodian sanctuary, Kaavan would at first live alone and only be allowed to meet other free elephants once it is considered ready. EFE-EPA

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