The loneliest elephant in the world has made friends for the first time in nearly a decade after spending eight years alone in a zoo.
The proboscis beast, named Kaavan, has finally moved into a cozy new home in a shrine in Cambodia after signer Cher campaigned for his rescue.
He spent a total of 35 years at Pakistan’s Marghazar Zoo without socializing – and has been completely alone since his partner died in 2012.
Cher greeted him on the tarmac in Cambodia as he landed, along with veterinarians sitting next to him as he flew.
Pictured in a black face mask and white jacket, the legendary American superstar encountered the animal she had campaigned for so long to be moved.
Cher had written songs urging Caavan’s release from the grim, isolated conditions of the Islamabad Zoo and had spent the last few days with him in Pakistan.
The 36-year-old 9,000-pound elephant was pictured making contact with a new friend with his trunk, apparently eager to make a good first impression.
In May, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the closure of the zoo where the animal spent most of its life after being in troubled times and in poor condition.
On Sunday, wildlife workers and experts led by animal rescue organization Four Paws, winched an anesthetized Kaavan into a specially designed crate to help move him.
He was lifted from the fence onto a truck where a military convoy escorted him to Islamabad airport.
He took a 10-hour flight to Cambodia, after undergoing a Covid-19 test, before going another five hours by truck to the city of Siem Reap, where the shrine is located.
Amir Khalil, a Four Paws veterinarian, said, “The flight was uneventful, and that’s all you can ask if you’re transferring an elephant.
“Kaavan was eating, wasn’t stressed, he even slept a bit, leaning against the crate wall. He acts like a Frequent Flyer. “
Kaavan’s story touched the hearts of many supporters who campaigned to move him to a safer place.
A petition to get him out of Maraghazar Zoo was signed by hundreds of thousands of people.
Four years ago, zoo owners insisted that the elephant was no longer chained, but his long-awaited new partner never arrived.
He had to spend all his time alone.
They claimed he was chained only when he had violent outbursts, but troubling reports said Kaavan was beaten to try and control his mood.
He was trapped in a cage, only 90 by 140 meters, with little shelter from the blazing sun.
The temperature in Islamabad can reach 40 ° C and the elephant had no shade.
Elephants are social animals and thrive in the company of others – so many were eager to see Kaavan interact with his new pen mates.
“Once Kaavan feels at home in a controlled environment, he will be released to a wildlife refuge, in Oddar Meanchey province, northern Cambodia, where some 600 Asian elephants live in peace and tranquility,” said a statement. Neth Pheaktra. , a spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment.