Pakistan’s only Asian elephant has spent years in grim conditions in a controversial Islamabad zoo, where he suffered from a lack of exercise as well as cracked and malformed nails due to living in an inappropriate structure.
After Kaavan’s partner died in 2012, he was dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant” — and since 2016, Cher has been part of a huge social media campaign to relocate him.
Kaavan at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad on June 30, 2016.
Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images
Before the flight, specialists from Four Paws trained the elephant for the small enclosure and loud noises he’d experience on the flight, using bananas and other treats.
Cher found out about Kaavan from people on Twitter, according to a statement from the Smithsonian Channel, which is producing a documentary on the elephant’s story.
“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?’,” Cher said. “This is Free The Wild’s first big rescue and I am so proud.”
Ahead of his trip, Cher traveled to Pakistan and serenaded Kaavan with the song “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.”
A statement from the Prime Minister’s office said former cricket star Khan had thanked Cher, and invited her to participate further in environmental initiatives in Pakistan.
Additional reporting by Reuters