American singer Cher is in Pakistan to send off Kaavan, the elephant she has spent years trying to free, before it is moved to a sanctuary in Cambodia tomorrow.
The 36-year-old Asian elephant has spent most of its life in Islamabad Zoo, much of that time without a companion, and animal rights advocates have campaigned for it to be rescued from grim conditions.
The singer is also helping to pay for Kaavan’s relocation.
Cher tweeted her thanks after meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday, “for making it possible for me to take Kaavan to Cambodia”.
A statement from the Prime Minister Office said that the premier thanked Cher and invited her to participate further in environmental initiatives in Pakistan.
Kaavan will be airlifted to the Cambodian province of Siem Reap.
It has been training with international specialists from rescue organisation Four Paws, armed with bananas and other treats to get it used to the small enclosure and loud noises of the 10-hour flight.
Wellwishers in Pakistan, including President Dr Arif Alvi, have been saying goodbye to Kaavan this week.
The plight of Kaavan – an overweight bull elephant – has drawn international condemnation and highlighted the woeful state of Islamabad’s zoo, where conditions are so bad that a judge in May ordered all the animals there to be moved.
Volunteers working with Kaavan say the elephant responds well to music and singing, and Cher is expected to belt out a song or two for the elephant before he departs Islamabad.
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