“World’s Loneliest Elephant” Finally Finds New Home
Thanks to the efforts of the local government, animal activists and a few celebrity supporters, he's on his way to a much better life.
What do Frank Sinatra, Cher and global welfare organization "Four Paws" have in common? They're all working together to help a lonely elephant in Pakistan leave the rundown zoo where he's been housed for the last 30 years.
The 36-year-old African elephant named Kavaan shared his enclosure with his partner Saheli until she died in 2012. Since then, he's been living a lonely life, and due to the poor conditions of the notoriously mismanaged Murghazer Zoo, he's not in great shape.
In May 2020, the Islamabad High Court decided to close the zoo and ruled that all animals had to be set free or transferred safely to an animal sanctuary.
Kavaan, who's been dubbed "The World's Loneliest Elephant," has been in captivity at the Marghazar Zoo in Pakistan for over 30 years. @fourpawsint
Four Paws was hired on by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) to support the safe relocation of the remaining animals, including Kavaan. After examining the elephant and running some tests, the team is finally making plans to move the elephant to a sanctuary in Cambodia.
When Four Paws came to care for Kavaan, they found he was overweight and showed signs of malnutrition. His nails were cracked and overgrown from years spent living in an improper enclosure with a floor that damaged his feet.
A team of vets has been caring for Kavaan and getting him examined to determine if he's healthy enough to travel. @fourpawsint
Aamir Khalil, one of the veterinarians who's handling Kavaan's examination, said it wasn't easy getting the animal to trust him at first, but he's found an unusual way to connect with him and soothe his nerves.
"I am not a good singer but I started to take him behind, and to train him, and sing to him, so that he would accommodate me into a relationship," Khalis told Reuters. "And I like the song Frank Sinatra, I do it 'My Way,' and this was my breakfast with him all the last days and nights."
When the world found out about Kavaan, who's been called "the world's loneliest elephant," animal lovers from all over the world came together to help get him out of the zoo, including pop icon Cher, who started lobbying for the pachyderm's freedom in 2016.
When she found out that Kavaan was finally going to be moved out of the zoo, she posted a heartfelt message to Twitter, thanking the Pakistani government. "This is one of the greatest moments of my life," she wrote. "Kavaan is free."
The singer Cher has been an unlikely champion in the fight for Kavaan's freedom. @cher
While Kavaan's health isn't great and he's still suffering from a broken heart, he's been ruled well enough to travel, so he'll be transported to his new home at the sanctuary – as soon as his caretakers can figure out a way to move an obese elephant over 3,000 miles.
Now that Kavaan's health has been cleared for travel, his handlers are left to determine the best way to get him to his new home. @fourpawsint
Thanks to Four Paws, Cher, Sinatra and animal activists all over the world for making this momentous occasion possible. We're rooting for you, Kavaan!