Pop music icon Cher traveled to Pakistan over the weekend to join an elephant described as the “world’s loneliest” on his long-awaited journey to salvation.
Kaavan, an isolated, mistreated and dangerously overweight elephant that spent more than three decades languishing inside a run-down Pakistani zoo, finally escaped his meager confines and arrived at a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia on Monday.
Cher campaigned for years to get Kaavan out of Islamabad’s Marghazar Zoo. Along with U.S. businessman Eric Margolis and the group Four Paws International, the American singer and actress helped pay for his relocation through her charity, Free the Wild.
“A dream is a wish your heart makes,” she sang to the animal in Pakistan to help calm his nerves when he needed it.
— TWH (@TWH_LDN) November 29, 2020
Local Pakistani activists first put Kaavan’s plight on Cher’s radar in 2016 with a Twitter campaign, aiming messages with the hashtag #SaveKaavan and #FreeKaavan at celebrities worldwide.
“At just about a year old, Kaavan was gifted to Pakistan by Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s. He spent decades at the Islamabad zoo in a small enclosure with few of the amenities required for the physical or mental health of an animal of such high intelligence. He performed for visitors, reportedly prodded by handlers to collect cash,” reports CBS News. “In 2012, Kaavan lost his only companion, a female elephant called Saheli, and his demeanor rapidly deteriorated. He became angry, despondent, and given his unhealthy diet, obese. The conditions were so dire at the zoo that a Pakistani court ordered it to be shut down in May this year, and all the animals to be relocated. That sparked a global effort to evacuate the animals, and especially Kaavan.”
“I found out about Kaavan from the people on my Twitter,” Cher said in a statement released by the Smithsonian Channel, which will air a documentary, “Cher’s Elephant Airlift,” in 2021. “They would not stop saying ‘Cher, you have to do something, you have to fix this, you have to save him.’ I thought, how can I 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?”
🐘Kaavan's journey to freedom from captivity in Islamabad to Cambodia will be a 2021 @SmithsonianChan documentary ❤️ Help us build Kaavan's forever home 🏡 https://t.co/dzdl4Ew4gn 🙏🏻@ftwglobal #KaavansJourney pic.twitter.com/iTxdzfndNB
— Cher (@cher) November 27, 2020
Kaavan was known as the loneliest elephant in the world – but fortunately, Cher beleives in life after love, and helped rescue him from dire conditions pic.twitter.com/fzOzSrDvIU
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 30, 2020