Singer Cher thanks Pakistani government for freeing Kaavan, the lonely elephant

Singer Cher thanks Pakistani government for freeing Kaavan, the lonely elephant

"This is one of the greatest moments of my life," shared the singer.
Updated 23 May, 2020

Music icon Cher marked "One of the greatest moment's of my life" Thursday after a Pakistani court ordered freedom for a lonely elephant named Kaavan, who had become the subject of a high-profile rights campaign backed by the US singer.

"We have just heard from Pakistani High Court Kaavan is free," Cher tweeted, adding a string of emojis and saying she felt "sick".

"This is one of the greatest moments of my life," the effusive singer continued.

The Islamabad High Court has ordered wildlife officials to consult with Sri Lanka to find Kaavan a "suitable sanctuary" within 30 days, tweeted the Friends of Islamabad Zoo, which described itself as a group of citizens concerned about animal welfare at the zoo.

Outrage over treatment of Kaavan, an Asian elephant originally from Sri Lanka, went global several years ago with a petition garnering over 200,000 signatures after it emerged he was being chained at the Islamabad Zoo in Pakistan's leafy capital.

Zoo officials later said this was no longer the case, and that he just needed a new mate after his previous partner died in 2012.

But experts have told AFP previously that without a better habitat his future was bleak, even if a long-promised new mate finally arrives.

His behaviour -- including signs of distress such as bobbing his head repeatedly -- demonstrates "a kind of mental illness", Safwan Shahab Ahmad of the Pakistan Wildlife Foundation told AFP in 2016.

Activists said he had insufficient shelter from Islamabad's searing summer temperatures, which can rise to above 40 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).

Asian elephants can roam thousands of kilometres through deep tropical and subtropical forests, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

In contrast, Kaavan's 90 by 140 metre (100 by 150 yard) pen had almost no foliage, and only limited shade was provided.

Arriving as a one-year-old in 1985 from Sri Lanka, Kaavan was temporarily held in chains in 2002 because zookeepers were concerned about increasingly violent tendencies, but he was freed later that year after an outcry.

His mate Saheli, who arrived also from Sri Lanka in 1990, died in 2012, and in 2015 it emerged that Kaavan was regularly being chained once more -- for several hours a day.

Scores of people signed a petition sent to zoo authorities and Pakistan's then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in protest.

A second petition circulated in 2016 and backed by over 200,000 animal-lovers from across the globe demanded Kaavan's release to a sanctuary.

Cher, who for years has spoken out about Kaavan's plight, tweeted her thanks to the Pakistani government, adding "it's so emotional for us that I have to sit Down".


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Baba May 22, 2020 01:06pm
Thanks someone in the world felt the cruel treatment extended by the caretakers of the animal.
Chrís Dăn May 22, 2020 01:35pm
Saif Zulfiqar May 22, 2020 01:38pm
What about other animals in Asian countries treated as cargo pullers?
Anon May 22, 2020 02:15pm
It was heart wrenching to see this elephant at islamabad zoo some months ago. Extremely distressing conditions that he is being kept in. People there for amusement snapping away selfish. I hope he recovers. I hope those responsible for his distress repent and never repeat this.
Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad May 22, 2020 02:55pm
No doubt, she is a great singer. However, in the midst of millions of people dying every year in the world because of hunger, starvation, poverty and diseases like coronavirus, doesn't it make sense to take care of fellow human beings first instead of animals?
Pakistani May 22, 2020 03:16pm
Cher we are nice people. We love everyone, including animals.
Sameer May 22, 2020 04:02pm
truly wonderful news.
well wisher May 22, 2020 08:38pm
Thank you, Cher for your efforts to free Kavan. PK must ensure his safety and well-being. Thank you to the judge (s) who freed Kavan. There is still some good left in the world.
ukasha rajpoot May 23, 2020 03:39am
KAAVAN THE HERO... Thank you to all the people, specially Cher for taking up this issue. We still have good humans on the planet. Thank you