The loneliest elephant in the world has finally set up a new home for him after 35 years, where he can see his days with friends.
An elephant kept in a tiny enclosure at a Pakistani zoo for 35 years is being brought to Cambodia, where it can spend its final days with new friends.
Kaavan, known by fans as the “loneliest elephant in the world,” has been languishing in a zoo in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad for more than three decades.
Kaavan was accompanied for many years by his partner Saheli in his unfortunate circumstances. After she died in 2012, he was left entirely alone.
When Saheli died, Kaavan’s aggression against humans worsened, and zookeepers chained him to a short leash without knowing how else to handle him.
After it emerged that the lone elephant was found to be tied up at all times, animal activists worldwide and celebrities, including US singer Cher, campaigned for his move.
It was announced today that Kaavan would finally be moved to his new home in the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary, where he will spend the rest of his days with new friends and receive the care he needs.
After an inspection, last month, the animal welfare group Four Paws found a list of illnesses afflicting Kaavan due to his enforced isolation.
Dr. Amir Khalil of the charity said, “Due to the lack of exercise and inadequate diet, his toenails are in deplorable condition due to a lack of adequate foot care and flooring.
“Mentally, he was also in bad shape – he exhibited severe stereotypical behavior and an aggressive attitude toward people.
“This can easily be explained by the lack of any spiritual enrichment and contact with other elephants as well as with humans – his mahouts [keepers] just stacked the food in a single place in his enclosure once a day and then went home. ‘
The overweight elephant, confined to a 295ft by 460ft pen with little shade from the sun, constantly bobbed and swayed his head.
This is caused by “some mental illness,” said Safwan Shahab Ahmad, the Pakistan Wildlife Foundation vice-chairman.
Even Kaavan’s keeper Mohammad Jalal said he rarely saw the elephant happy.
In May, the Pakistani High Court ordered Marghazar Zoo’s closure because of its miserable conditions stemming from systemic negligence.
In July, the court ordered that Kaavan be taken to the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary to interact with humans and other elephants.
Kaavan must be trained for the trip and enter the container before it is put on a plane that can carry the obese elephant.
Experienced handlers and vets are with him at all times to make sure he is as comfortable as possible.
Dr. Khalil said he hoped for Kaavan’s new life.
He said: ‘The team is very experienced, and the conditions for its recovery are perfect. It will form a group with other elephants and live in a large area of its natural habitat.
“The contact with other elephants will help him to establish his position within his new family group and to gain more self-confidence.”
Dr. Khalil added, “Elephants are social animals and live in groups in the wild. They are also one of the most intelligent species on earth.
“An elephant’s separation from its family and loneliness can be very negative for their mental health.”