This is a story with a happy ending and Cher played a role in it all. Yes, THAT Cher.
Dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant,” Kaavan the 36-year-old Asian elephant spent three decades in captivity in a zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan. Ever since his partner Saheli died in 2012, he was living in solitude under poor conditions and with no contact with his own kind. Kaavan’s sad story broke the hearts of many around the world, and it even caught the attention of American superstar Cher. Luckily, she decided to do everything she could to help him. Today, Kaavan is now living in a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia, where there are three other elephants to keep him company.
The Marghazar Zoo, where Kaavan lived, was not the place any animal should be. He spent most of his years there in chains. After his partner Saheli passed away, Kaaven was left heartbroken and his condition worsened. He was malnourished, his nails were overgrown, and he suffered from behavioral problems because of his time spent alone. Cher, who is the co-founder of the NGO Free the Wild, wrote on Twitter that she saw a picture of Kaavan “shackled in a shed” and “unable to move.” She decided she had to do something to help. “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 led a social media campaign to #freeKaavan, and in May 2020, a judge ruled that the elephant should be moved somewhere with better care for him. After deciding that Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary should be his new home, animal welfare group Four Paws International got involved and began the rehabilitation process. Four Paws veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil spent three months preparing Kaavan for the 10-hour journey. “Kaavan quickly gained confidence in us and made great progress in a short time,” he recalls. “In his case, it not only took a village but a whole country to transfer Kaavan to Cambodia.”
Cher was in Pakistan to see Kaavan off before his flight, and she even sang A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes to him in a bid to soothe his nerves. Thankfully, the flight was a success and Cher also made her way to Cambodia to meet Kaavan on the other side of his journey. “Kaavan was eating, was not stressed and he even slept a little bit whilst leaning on the wall of the crate!” Four Paws tweeted. “He behaves like a ‘Frequent Flyer.’”[…]